Culture: July 2007 Archives

Victor Sjöström and Bibi Andersson in a still from Ingmar Bergman's 1957 film, "Smultronstället" [Wild Strawberries]

Well, of course it is. Everything is like a scene from a Bergman film.
Wow. Maybe this is not a balanced judgment, since I've been greedily devouring Ingmar Bergman's work for 50 years, but I think this piece by The Reeler's Stu VanAirsdale may be the most extraordinarily beautiful memorial to an artist that I've ever read.

[image from luebeck]

Judy Chicago The Dinner Party 1974–1979 ceramic, porcelain and textiles [installation view]

Nayland Blake Untitled 2002 charcoal on paper [installation view]

Florine Stettheimer Heat 1919 [installation view]


Ree Morton Regional Work #2 1976 oil on wood with Celastic [installation view]

Jane E. Bartlett Sarah Cowell (later Sarah Cowell Lemoyne) 1877 oil on canvas

Thomas A. Edison Inc., William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, producer Buffalo Dance 1894 video from original 35mm silent B&W film [still from installation]

Raphaelle Peale Still Life with Cake 1822 oil on panel [installation view]

Barry and I really did have a terrific time at Brooklyn Museum yesterday, and we've decided to visit its permanent and temporary exhibits much more frequently than we have in the past. It's an easy subway run from Chelsea (or most anywhere else in Manhattan at least) and the installations are really smart. I was very impressed by the conception and execution of "American Identities" a long-term exhibition in the Luce Center of American Art which occupies much of the fifth floor. We didn't have time to get into the so-called "visible storage" galleries of the Center, but I'm going to be heading back very soon.

This cultural treasure sits on the edge of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and Prospect Park. It's both a great museum in Brooklyn and a great museum for Brooklyn. There's much of Brooklyn in it, although the rare broadcast of that fact is pretty subtle and a very soft sell: Because I was looking for it, because I love my fabulous neighbor borough (and erstwhile great independent city), and because and I know much about its history and its culture, I think I may have been more aware of Brooklyn references than most visitors would be, including natives of burg themselves.

The crowds are smaller than those in the large Manhattan museums, but they just might be a little more enthusiastic, and it's a delight for me to see their delight. The collection isn't the least bit provincial, but somehow it seems like a museum you can warm up to. I have.

I've uploaded images of just a few things that excited me yesterday. Some of them made it partly because of information provided by documentation on the museum walls I can't include here, but it's clearly a very odd company, spontaneously assembled on the spot. Except for the first work, they were all part of "American Identities", a collection of hundreds of objects from the Museum's collection of art from all the Americas, including the decorative arts, from the colonial era to the present. Judy Chicago's heroic and very elegant piece, "The Dinner Party", is in its [almost?] permanent home on the 4th floor (a separate triangular gallery inside the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art), but all of the other works I show are part of the "American Identities" exhibition one flight up.

It was still being installed when we were there, but I'm really looking forward to visiting the Museum's upcoming special exhibition, "Global Feminisms Remix", which opens on Friday right on the other side of the wall from "The Dinner Party".

Marsden Hartley Evening Storm, Schoodic, Maine No. 2 1942 oil on board 30" x 40.5"


We crossed Brooklyn ferry this afternoon (by subway, of course), on the last day of the Asher Durand show at Brooklyn Museum. I wasn't permitted to photograph the Durand paintings, because they were not part of the museum's own collection, but my camera wasn't idle when we walked through the other galleries on the 5th floor.

This evening, still on the subject of the natural beauty of the Northeast, I can't think of a better image to stand in for the pioneering Durand landscapes than this magnificent painting by Marsden Hartley. It may be my favorite thing of the day.

Jeffrey Tranchell Gold Bar 2007 enamel on wood 3.25" x 32" [installation view]

Mike Smith untitled 2007 latex, ink and enamel on canvas 24" x 18" [installation view]

Mike Smith untitled 2007 latex, ink and enamel on canvas 20" x 16" [installation view]

I wanted to do this post over a month ago, as soon as I left "Darjeeling", the enigmatic title of only the latest informal show installed by the Daniel Reich Gallery in one of the rooms of the Chelsea Hotel. At first I guess a lot of other things got in the way, and when the exhibition with the enigmatic title, shared by the artists Mike Smith and Jeffrey Tranchell, eventually closed writing about it seemed less, what, useful? Well, I haven't been able to forget it. I continually see that room and its quirky installation in my head, regretting not sharing it here and half promising myself to do a belated entry.

So this is it, but for my tardiness I now feel I can't leave without going into a bit of history:

Barry and I have been fans of the wonderfully unconventional Daniel Reich and his aesthetic choices from the beginning of his own gallery visibility, when (well before his first foray west of 10th Avenue) he was running a space in his micro-apartment on the ground floor of a building on West 21st Street. Before that we knew him as an assistant in Pat Hearn's gallery and later the director. Earlier still we had met him when he was one of a number of young earnests attracted to the eccentric court sheltered by Bill Bartman's Art Resources Transfer [A.R.T.] gallery, publishing and bookstore space on West 22nd Street.

I'd like to imagine that it's partly because of Daniel's own career narrative that these two artists were given the opportunity of mounting this interesting small show.

We like his own shows and we like the Chelsea Hotel, our neighbor. I've always regretted that this magnificent building with a legendary, even mythical past, wasn't the full-time venue for more galleries, but then it is fundamentally a residential pile, and I was always pretty fond of the commercial occupancies which did manage to get leases there, like a tackle shop, a guitar store, a tattoo parlor, a tiny tailor shop, an acupuncture salon. The hotel is under new management today, and even these interesting tenants are now going or already gone from the scene, probably to be replaced with one or more national chains to which none of its present residents or neighbors will ever be able to warm up.

I hope this isn't one of the Chelsea Hotel's last adventurous visual arts events, but it and Daniel Reich are certain to remain part of the legend.


I guess none of our fans read the Wall Street Journal (I suppose that's quite possible), because no one told us until today about this item by Lauren A. E. Schuker from last Saturday's edition. It's all about telling readers where they might find the next art bargains, and among a number of other ideas are the writer's suggestions for checking out the web.

Art blogs can also be a good source of information about emerging artists. Popular sites include,,, and
I can't help noticing that ArtCal was placed before artnet, and this isn't an alphabetical list.

Maybe WSJ fans will now be tuning in regularly. In any event, the Schuker's piece seems like a good thing for everybody. It doesn't seem it would hurt if our money moguls got more culture and it would definitely help underknown artists and galleries if people with money stopped tripping over each other chasing down the safest art-world stars.

Meanwhile, an inside tip from bloggy and jameswagner: ArtCal will be launching a totally new design in the next week or two. The trim and stylish new logo appears at the top of this post.

Joel Longenecker And Then You Die 2007 oil on canvas 90" x 96"


Joel Longenecker Float Theory 2007 oil on linen 62" x 54"

Joel Longenecker Get Drift 2007 oil on canvas 78" x 74"

When I first saw these paintings I didn't know how to fit them into my accustomed ideas about how art should ideally provoke and re-draw my world in some way when I initially encounter it. Joel Longenecker's paintings in his solo show, "Ignorance and Bliss", at Sideshow are both powerful and beautiful, but they do not capture new territory. In fact while they were all finished this year, they would not look anomalous (although they'd probably have been stars) in a Manhattan gallery show years ago.

But to say this is not to dismiss what Longenecker has accomplished. I still like to visit the work of the iconic abstract expressionists, even when it's become very familiar, and when an artist speaks in the same language today, but to tell new stories, why should I refuse to listen?

I knew I would end up appreciating this work more if I hung around a bit yesterday, and I did. I didn't however expect to become as attached to it as I am now, the result of an increased familiarity from having spent an absurd amount of time today trying to adjust the colors on the images I shot during my visit. I had to revise my adjustments over and over to see that the colors were neither too bright and transparent nor too dark and smudgy. I hope I've come close to the originals but, especially with painting, there's no substitute for being able to stand in front of the canvas itself.

Alejandro Diaz (selection from "Ongoing series of Cardboard Signs" 2003 - present) [installation view]

[additional signs from the series]

Guy Richards Smit study for front cover of "Grossmalerman Adventures" 2007 gouache on paper 30.25" x 22.75" [installation view]

Terrence Gower Display Modern II-1 (Hepworth) 2006-2007 Paper mâché 49.75" x 38.25" x 9", Display Modern II-2 (Hepworth) 2006-2007 paper mâché 46" x 18" x 15", and Display Modern II-4 (Hepworth) 2006-2007 paper mâché 48.5" x 18" x 15", with Display Modern I (Hepworth) 2006-2007 12 Piezo pigment prints on phot rag 11" x 14" each (unframed) on wall to the rear [installation view]

Rachel Gugelberger and Jeffrey Walkowiak, co-directors of the gallery, are the curators of the current Sara Meltzer show, "Ceci n'est pas... (This is not...)", featuring work by Tamy Ben-Tor, Cary Leibowitz, Peter Coffin, Michael Lindeman, Jennifer Dalton, Pam Lins, Alejandro Diaz, Reynard Loki, Charley Friedman, Edgar Orlaineta, Neil Goldberg, Laura Parnes, Terence Gower, Danica Phelps, Pablo Helguera, Jude Tallichet, Christopher K. Ho and Troy Richards, Guy Richards Smit, Nina Katchadourian, Michael Smith and David Kramer.

The press release is almost as amusing as this very amusing show itself. It begins with a statement warning us about what the installation is not:

Ceci n'est pas... (This is not...) an exhibition about painting. This is not an exhibition that defines a moment or a trend. This is not an exhibition that celebrates the emerging artist or the mid-career artist or those who have passed. This is not an exhibition about appropriation, subversive strategies or architectural interventions. This is not an exhibition about global warming, the war in Iraq, government corruption, Lindsey Lohan or Knut the polar bear.
And it goes on to describe what it is, in an explanation excerpted here:
The group exhibition Ceci n'est pas... (This is not...) presents works that approach various facets of the art world with irony and humor. Culled from artist's observations and experiences as well as art world mythology, the far-ranging styles include self-deprecating anecdotes, commentaries on art and exhibition practices and critiques of art market trends.

Mark Schubert Merry-Jo 2007 epoxy resin, plastic lawn ornaments, chrome table, foam and enamel, approx. 69" x 40" x 42" [installation view]



Joey Fauerso If I'm Thinking I'm Probably Feeling 2006 video: 35-second looped animation made from 454 oil and acrylic paintings [two stills from installation]

I'm not surprised that one of my favorite things in the show is Mark Schubert's piece, or that it was already marked sold when we arrived at the gallery one week after the show opened. I'm talking about "Merry-Jo", Schubert's large sculpture occupying the physical center of the current exhibition, "Famous Adults as Children, Famous Children as Adults", at Monya Rowe. Maybe it's spoiler, but I'll tell you anyway: The major elements of this sculpture started life as a plastic Mary and Joseph.

I was also fascinated by Joey Fauerso's "If I'm Thinking I'm probably Feeling", a half-minute video animation assembled from hundreds of individual paintings.

The show was curated by José Lerma, and besides these works by Schubert and Fauerso there are excellent pieces by Evan Gruzis, Christopher McNulty, John McKinnon, Brendan Mulcahy, Jesus Bubu Negron, Joe Pflieger, Andrew Rogers and Chemi Rosado Seijo.

The press release states simply that the installation "examines themes of repetition, replication and the reformulation of existing works and ideas". What a strange idea: a curatorial concept which doesn't end up stuck in the ordinary art fan's throat.

Sarah Braman Step Out 2007 found furniture, Plexiglas, paint 46" x 53" x 32" [installation view]

Nicole Cherubini Amphora 2007 ceramic, terracotta, porcelain, luster, yellow crystal ice, wood, enamel and fake gold and silver chain 70" x 64" x 30" [installation view]

Jacob Robichaux Concrete/Abstract 2007 color pencil, enamel, felt, glue, linen, parquetry tablets, string, wood 27" x 25"

Ian Pedigo Temporary Image of the Exterior 2007 wood, counter top, Plexiglas, decals, found printed image 64" x 63.5" x 1.75" [installation view]

The other reason of my excitement about D'Amelio Terras is the show in the larger space, "Circumventing the City", curated by Rachel Uffner, with work by Sarah Braman, David Brooks, Jedediah Caesar, Nicole Cherubini, Valerie Hegarty, Yuri Masnyj, Ian Pedigo, Jacob Robichaux, Sterling Ruby and Erika Vogt.

Like "Heralds of Creative Anachronism", this is a show of abstraction, and everything in this room too was created within the last year or so, but four of the ten artists are not men, and their medium is not just paint on canvas. In fact, there really isn't anything here which might be called straight painting at all.

It's a beautiful show.

I was already familiar with and enthusastic about the exciting work of Braman, Cherubini, Hegarty, Pedigo, Robichaux and Ruby, and now I'm also going to be watching for Brooks, Caesar and Masnyj.


This smallish piece on paper by Robichaux is not actually part of the show, but I saw it hanging in an office inside the gallery and I couldn't resist sharing it.

Roger White Cloth 2006 oil on canvas 54" x 38"

Chris Martin Mother Popcorn 2006-2007 oil and collage on canvas 64" x 59"

D'Amelio Terras has two dynamite shows up at the same time, and they will both be running for almost four more weeks, until August 10. "Heralds of Creative Anachronism", which occupies the gallery's smaller space, includes five abstract works by four artists, Joe Bradley, Daniel Hesidence, Chris Martin [see also my July 17 post], and Roger White.

The gallery describes the choice of four male painters for this show as a deliberate reference to the 60's art group known as BMPT (Daniel Buren, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier, Niele Toroni), but admits that the exhibition is "a light-hearted attempt to create a movement, even a temporary one, for the duration of this exhibition". In fact I think what they're saying is that the idea here, very unlike BMPT's, is to question the whole notion of movements or "schools" in the practice of contemporary abstract painting.

Whatever the show's conceit, the work is terrific.

No curator is credited.


I wasn't going to single out this one article in one periodical for a post here on my site, thinking it would appear too self-serving, but then I realized that people were already reading the provocative piece by James Kalm, "Gangs of New York", in the latest Brooklyn Rail and my not saying anything might look like a statement itself. Besides, it's about much more than art blogs, and I would definitely have wanted to be told about it myself, and read it, even if I didn't already know some of the names involved.

Bloggy already did a small post about Kalm's piece and there he referred to the broadsheet's accompanying photo as broadly "horrific" (he was being kind, since although he didn't single out my own appearance I swear I've still never seen a bad picture of Barry!).

The article is about the future of art criticism, the growth of online art communities, the disintegration of older art authorities, etc., and it includes interviews with PaintersNYC, Barry and myself.

Mira Dancy Burning Flame 2007 oil on canvas 16" x 16"

Mira Dancy Tall Table 2007 oil on canvas 42" x 24"

Chris Martin Untitled 2005-2007 mixed media, insulation foam on wire mesh 32" x26.75' [installation view]

Eric Heist The Kingdom is Inside You and Outside You (From Interfaith Center) 2005 mixed media 40" x 20" x 26" [installation view]

Aaron Williams Are We Dead? 2007 watercolor, enamel and spray paint on paper 27" x 34.5" [installation view]

Mike Cloud Chicken with Two Stars of David 2005 oil on linen with toy from children's game 39.25" x 37.75" x 40" [installation view]

Andrew Guenther The Slap of Bird Shit on Wet Pavement (green and yellow) 2006 acrylic and oil stick on paper 30" x 22.5" [installation view, of work inside frame]

It's been a while since Mid-Chelsea looked as exciting as it does right now. I just counted nine "TOP PICKS" on ArtCal, and seven of them are Chelsea galleries; that may be a record. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that a number of artists are currently making an appearance there who have not previously been associated with our far-west-side, grown-ups-art scene. Barry and I headed west for a few hours this afternoon and much of the time it felt like we were actually visiting Williamsburg or the Lower East Side - except that our local big-deal galleries can afford excellent air conditioning, their market being rather demanding.

We encountered our first stash of treasures at "Unfathom", the beautiful Max Protetch group show curated by the artist Aaron Williams and Stuart Krimko, the gallery's Director of Exhibitions. The artists are Cameron, Nicolas Rule, Saul Chernick, Gary Stephan, Jessica Dickinson, Chris Martin, Byron Kim, Andrew Guenther, Alfred Jensen, Mira Dancy, Rico Gaston, Marc Handelman, Eric Heist, Katherine Keltner, Mike Cloud, Ed Blackburn and Aaron Williams.

Ju$t Another Rich Kid & Stuart Semple Teen Dream Chaos 2007 mixed media installation, dimensions variable [large detail of installation]

[further detail]

For those who haven't yet seen the show on 21st Street Anna Kustera has fortunately extended the run of "The Black Market" until August 3. It's something about the comodification of everything we think we may still have held simply dear until recently. Yes you may go shopping, and the stuff is attached to a huge range of price tags.

In addition to their rich collaboration shown above there are also individual pieces by Ju$t Another Rich Kid and Stuart Semple, who are jointly responsible for curating the show. Beyond that there's work by Mattia Biagi, Carlo Zanni, Cory Ingram, Craig Wilson, Adham Faramawy, the (aural) collaboration of London Nu Ravers, Warboy and K-tron of All You Can Eat, as well as something called "The Playground", described as an unbound collection of hand-made fashion and art prints produced and boxed in a limited edition.

It all looked like tons of fun to me, and when I was there the contents of The Playground's striking box hadn't even been revealed yet.

Eric Hairabedian Pitcher 2006 C-print 30" x 24" [installation view]

Eric Hairabedian Mr. Valentine 2006 C-print 30" x 24" [installation view]

Eric Hairabedian Pepe 2007 C-print 8.5" x 11" [installation view, including blogger's reflection]

Tricia Zigmund The Church of the Cross 2007 C-print [no dimensions indicated; installation view]

Dana Gentile Dreamboy 2007 mixed media collage, wooden spool and cigar box 6.5" x 11" x 1.5" [installation view]

It's almost as much about the space as it is about the photographs, at least that's what the press release for Pocket Utopia's "Not Yet Utopic" seems to be saying. If you've been to the gallery and seen the show, you know what that's all about. But you wouldn't have to agree, since the work in this group show would shine in any environment, even a clean, white space.

The photographers are Dana Gentile, Terry Girard, Kristopher Graves, Eric Hairabedian, Jersey Walz and Tricia Zigmund. I've included in the shots above a bit of the ambiance of the evolving construction that currently defines this space and which is almost inseparable from each piece as presented here.

What follows is a bit more of the de-constructing gallery surfaces themselves, by way of a lagniappe:





Is it a riot scene, a political demonstration, a fire drill, an Improv Everywhere mission? No, it's just the overflow crowd outside the new 31 Grand on Ludlow Street last night, welcoming the gallery in its move from Williamsburg (yeah, 31 Grand) to the Lower East Side.

The show was dominated by the gallery's own artists, but there were some special guests as well. I think we'll call it a corker and ignore the title. What follows is just a taste of the 28 works in the show (unofficially, 29 last night, since Carol Riot Kane made a stunning addition to the crowd).

More from Bloggy.

This is the complete list:

Claudine Anrather, Ursula Brookbank, Fanny Bostrom, Alessandra Exposito, Maureen Cavanaugh, Mike Cockrill, Jon Elliott, Rachel Frank, Helen Garber, Lauren Gibbes, Jeph Gurecka, Magalie Guerin, Karen Heagle, Jan Kotik, Jason Clay Lewis, Francesca Lo Russo, Ryan McLennan, Christa Parravani, Anthony Pontius, Tom Sanford, Adam Stennett, Kimi Weart, Barnaby Whitfield and Jeff Wyckoff

Tom Sanford David & Victoria Beckham 2007 oil, acrylic and fake silver on wood, 2 panels 28.5" x 28.5" each [installation view]

Barnaby Whitfield The Prestige (Ground Control) 2007 28.5" x 36" [installation view]

the artist and Erik Lindman admire Whitfield's drawing

Karen Heagle Laocoon (Tom DeLonge) 2006 acrylic and ink on paper 51" x 54" [installation view]

Lauren Gibbes the Friendly Barbarian 2005 Astroturf, acrylic, ceramic, siolk flowers, diamond dust, dimensions variable [installation view[

Anthony Pontius The Great Rescue 2007 oil on panel [dimensions not provided, but approximately 16" square]

Rob Pruitt Under The Cherry Moon 2007 acrylic and oil on panel 36" x 30" approx. [installation view, the rectangular shape of the panel distorted here by the camera parallax]

[detail including unicorn sticker]

Dana Carlson What Cats Think About 2006 embroidery, beadwork, applique and paint on peach satin 32" x 25"

Even if the art weren't so good - and so much good fun - the titles should probably be a sufficient draw for this group show at the new-ish Smith Stewart gallery on, once again, the Lower East Side. Some of the best, even away from the works themselves, are Jamie Warren's "Untitled (Naoko/Squid teeth)", assume vivid astro focus's "Butch Queen 5 (Le Sport Sac)", Michele O'Marah's "Susie's Rainbow (Valley Girl Prop)", Marlene McCarthy's "Annointed: Beeville, Texas", and Jen DeNike's "Up, Down, Strange, Charmed, Top, Bottom" and J Penry's "To Dream of Flying Papillon".

The other artists are Hrafnhildur Arnardottir, Jim Krewson, Meredith Danluck, Ryan McGinley and Amy Carlson.

The title of the exhibition itself is "She Was Born To Be My Unicorn", and it was curated by Amy Kellner [in her spare time, writer, photographer, VICE editor, blogger, bon vivant and teenage unicorn].

Barry has an image of Nicole Eisenman's piece.

[detail of Vidal's collage in the gallery window]

Please indulge me for this additional post on Jacques Louis Vidal's show at Sunday. The immediate occasion for my uploading some more pictures now was the fact that the artist performed a second time inside the gallery last Saturday with totally new material, and these images partially document what the gallery billed as a workshop, "making friends + keeping friends".

I think Vidal is an extremely interesting artist, but these pictures have a larger history for me personally: I am very interested in the performing arts as well as the visual arts, but because of the nature of the viewer's experience most theater (of almost any kind, even the experimental and the outré, which is my passion) is much more problematic, of not impossible, for a blogger who loves to introduce unique images to his visitors. Like a bee to honey, if you tell me that an artist I already admire is doing a show, I'm on it.

I believe there will be a final performance this weekend, probably late Saturday afternoon, but I don't know anything more right now.

The picture which leads this post at the top is a detail of the latest version (as of Saturday) of Vidal's continuing window installation.






coming soon to a changing neighborhood

Looking at this stage more like the Pompidou than the casual stack of clean, minimal, white spaces which will eventually sit on the side of one of the oldest and most historically-evocative streets in New York City, the new New Museum is slowly rising above [most of] the roofs of the Lower East Side, where it will soon help to re-define the cultural landscape of an entire community.

We have already been seeing a number of good galleries opening up all over the neighborhood, and I wouldn't expect that trend to slow down any time soon. My only question is what took them so long?

In spite of the fact that I live almost on top of the Chelsea gallery ghetto, I more than welcome a new destination: At least on visits to that side of town art junkies will be able to get a drink or a snack while making [our] unflagging rounds.


Looking at this image this morning I realize I should have mentioned how impressed I was several years ago when the Museum announced the location of their new building. It's was a coup for the architects, Sejima + Nishizawa/SANAA, and for the institution, and of course a boon for all New Yorkers. The building is at the eastern end of Prince, a street which has attracted interesting tenants at least as long as I've been coming to the city. It comes to a full stop at Bowery, and when I took this picture I was roughly across the street from the site of the legendary Manny's music shop (where I first heard John Zorn play live). Even the great gothic cathedrals of Europe don't always get such a grand parade for a front yard.

Ahmed Alsoudani Opened Ground 2007 charcoal, pastels and acrylic on paper 80" x 105" [installation view]


Ahmed Alsoudani Untitled 2007 charcoal, pastels and acrylic on paper 94" x 107" [installation view]


After entering the gallery and exchanging greetings with gallery-keeper Ron Segev, I looked over his shoulder and was almost immediately aware that I was looking at something profoundly disturbing, and profoundly important. I'm referring to the work of Ahmed Alsoudani, one of four artists represented in "The Atrocity Exhibition", currently installed at Thiery Goldberg on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side.

Alsoudani is a young artist, currently living in Connecticut, who was born in Iraq and came to the U.S. after the first Gulf War. He's an American citizen today, but his work has not forgotten the recent history of his native land and the enormous and continuing human disaster whose burden (of the guilt, if not so much the grief) is so closely shared by his adopted home.

My first thought when I saw these two large drawings was that I was looking at a twenty-first-century "Guernica". The technique is ultimately Alsoudani's own, but much of his subject and elements of his dramatic representation of violence evokes the truth and the power of Picasso's anti-war masterpiece, the honest outrage of Goya's "Disasters of War", or the grotesque beauty of Miro's anti-fascist "Black and Red" series.

All of my references are to Spanish artists whose work was impacted by fascist or imperial violence, but they occurred to me even before I had learned about the artist's origins or had read that his work is intended to specifically address the savagery being visited on the land he had to flee years ago, but where his mother and others still remain. Now I don't consider it a stretch to see a connection in this small gallery space between the atrocities of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the memorials created by artists whose own countrymen were sacrificed to power, greed, ignorance and fear, and our own atrocity in our own century and a memorial (or series of memorials, since the cataclysm continues) created by another artist, again a countryman of the sacrificial victims, again the very same scourges.

These are fearsomely-magnificent works. I am very grateful to have gotten even a small peek into this artist's extraordinary vision and imagination.

I was also very impressed with the work of the other three artists being shown this month, Ben Grasso, who regularly shows wonderful exploding stuff mid-explosion, and who is associated with Thiery Goldberg, Wendy Heldmann, who shows aftermaths, and lives and works in Los Angeles, and Molly Larkey, represented by two sculptures from her "Bombs" series, and who I think is showing in several spaces around town just now, including PS1.

By the way, the title of the show, "The Atrocity Exhibition", describes its contents much more straightforwardly than is usually the case these days.

If there are no other images in this entry it's only because of the difficulties I encountered in capturing any decent document of the other works. There are a few small pictures on the gallery's own site, but not enough at the moment to keep wise visitors from investigating themselves.

Mary Heilmann Sunset at Makapu 1984 oil on canvas 60" x42"

I'm probably showing an image by the most well-known of the artists included in this pretty serious summer group show, “Three for Society”, at 303 Gallery, but it's the kind of extraordinary painting which so ordinarily produced by Mary Heilmann, so I couldn't resist sharing.

The other names in the exhibition, a majority of which belong to artists associated with the gallery, are Robert Boyd, Rebecca E. Chamberlain, Anne Chu, Hans Peter Feldmann, Tom Gidley, Florian Maier-Aichen, Collier Schorr, Agathe Snow, David Thorpe and Jakub Julian Ziolkowski.

Brian Ulrich Untitled (Thrift 0628) 2006 30" x 24"

Alec Soth Bonnie (with a photograph of an angel), Port Gibson, Mississippi 2000 32" x 40"

They're American, so they come in many models. They're not all pretty, but their images are all riveting. They're all portraits, but they're not the kind that comes out of a photographer's studio. Each of them is done by an artist.

Jen Bekman's current show, "A New American Portrait", is co-curated by Bekman herself and Jörg Colberg.

The photographers represented are Christine Collins, Jen Davis, Benjamin Donaldson, Amy Elkins, Peter Haakon Thompson, Todd Hido, Alec Soth, Brian Ulrich, and Shen Wei.

[Ulrich image from Jen Bekman, Soth image from Alec Soth]


On Tuesday I wrote that Jacques Louis Vidal had scheduled performances through two more weekends during his current show at Sunday on the Lower East Side [LES], but today I've received word that he has reduced them to a single day's production, to be mounted this Saturday afternoon, July 7.

It will be a workshop at the gallery called "making friends + keeping friends", and should start soon after the mesquite cookout, which is on the schedule from 1 to 4. I definitely recommend a visit to Eldridge Street on Saturday.

Tommy Hartung Viewing Station #1 2007 4 black folding chairs, media cart, tripod projection screen, dimensions variable [installation view]

Rashawn Griffin Untitled (Everything Has) 2006 ink, thread, mixed media on paper, dimensions variable [installation view]

and the big white box still looks like it's been barely disturbed. Tommy Hartung and Rashawn Griffin have each brought a number of examples of their very different work into the North Gallery at Moti Hasson, but somehow this elegant installation of smart, (almost) monochromatic work manages to look both spare and lush at the same time.

Michael Williams Fur Tree 2007 oil on canvas 58" x 76"

Melissa Brown Untitled 2007 silk screen on aluminum 48" x 96"

Once again Canada manages to put on a show which local art fans will miss at their own peril, or at least at the risk of losing out on some good serious fun. Dan Nadel curated the gallery's "New Mutants", a show of work by Melissa Brown, Brian Chippendale, Julie Doucet, C.F., Trenton Doyle Hancock, Ben Jones, Amy Lockhart, Sakura Maku, Frank Santoro, Patrick Smith and Michael Williams. Yes, that Michael Williams.

missing person flier in the gallery window

Jacques Louis Vidal's appearance at Sunday is more than a show; it's a way of art, a two-way street for both the artist and the viewer. At the opening reception of "Wood Folks is Good Folks" the artist enlisted himself and some half dozen volunteers in a performance which literally wound through (and into) the entire gallery installation. He's promised one more performance for this Saturday, July 7, a workshop called "making friends + keeping friends". It should start soon after the mesquite cookout, which is on the schedule from 1 to 4. I definitely recommend a visit to Eldridge Street that day.

Vidal's performances and sculptures evoke traditional folk-tale forms and, well, a lot of slacker high school shop, but his subject appears to be a contemporary and grown-up concern with the absurdity of a world created by the rude political, commercial and religious heirs to that more humble and more muted America and its naive how-to culture. Whether inhabited by his own body in performance or seemingly discarded in a gallery, the stuff Vidal creates incorporates toys and monsters, natural relics and human monuments, terrors and amusements, prayers and ad copy, paper and scissors, shiny foil and dull tape, string and wood (always lots of wood). The sculptures, like his (literally) fantastic drawings, display a (misleading) childlike simplicity, and his performances have a charming earnestness almost always leading to some form of embarrassment for the actor himself.

But all this cool "stuff" is only the beginning; what lingers is a very post-post-modern questioning - and the generous spirit of the artist.

I almost forgot. We've been excited about his work since first seeing it in March of 2006 and Vidal was an extremely important part of our curated show last fall.

The images on this post were all captured during the opening on June 22. The series below begins with the artist's performance, moves on to the Houston Astrodome sculpture and Vidal handling the two-headed, tiny-footed wooden man. The last photo is a detail of a wall collage representing the home being prepared for all the good, wooden folks.

Barry has a post with another image from the opening, a link to his flickr set and a 45-second video clip of the performance.

artist inhabiting his work













This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from July 2007.

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