Culture: November 2008 Archives

Eyal Danieli Some of my Best Friends #5 2008 oil on linen 14" x 18"

We're big admirers of Eyal Danieli's work so I guess it was because we were out of the city and otherwise pretty distracted during the run of his fall show, "In the Mood for Love", at Elizabeth Harris that we very nearly missed it. I can't explain in any other way why we were reduced to arranging with the gallery via a weekend email to see the exhibition after it had officially closed, but so it was that Barry and I found ourselves visiting the gallery early on a recent Tuesday - beyond the last minute, but just in time.

We weren't disappointed. The beautiful installation managed to draw on all of the powerful themes Danieli has been pursuing in his work for years, but it also included some newer subjects and introduced one large-ish canvas, "Locate the Arab, Identify the Jew", whose style seemed to suggest an opening onto a new body of work. But maybe not.

These paintings come with music, but maybe that's just me. Sure, I'm listening to a recording of Wagner's "Götterdämmerung" right now, but that's just happenstance; they would furnish their own without any help.

I shiver with both delight and horror each time I look at these troublesomely "awesome", nearly-abstracted helicopters and bombers. I'm attracted to the texture and color of the oil and repelled by the terror represented by the outlines. Then, if try to get more comfortable with the other canvases, fragmented-text paintings and softer human or animal shapes representing the world below the killing machines, I don't find relief: I'm still almost afraid to get too close.

Eyal Danieli In the Mood for Love 5 2008 oil on linen 38" x 80"

Eyal Danieli Are You Looking at Me? 2008 oil on canvas 10" x 8"

ADDENDUM: Element Editions has just released an edition of 16 unique (hand colored) prints by Danieli. They are available for $450. See Bloggy's post for an image and a link to the order page of this artist-run print-making studio.

Derick Melander Flesh of My Flesh 2008 fabric 2' x 2' x 10' [installation view]

We won't be in Miami this week, although we're finding more and more reasons to regret the decision. The news that a Derick Melander sculpture will be prominently represented at one of the fairs is only the latest. The artist has created a new piece for Richmond's ADA Gallery and it will be exhibited as a Special Project at SCOPE from December 3rd through the 7th.

It's a tall column made up of carefully folded and stacked second-hand clothing. Each layer is categorized by its relative color value, with the darkest placed at the bottom and the top of the stack, each transitioning to white. The title, "Flesh of My Flesh", is pulled from the script exposed at the fold of a found t-shirt located somewhere in the center.

I've been a big fan of Melander's work for years, and while I haven't actually seen this new piece except in the form of the photo above, it looks pretty spectacular from here.

[image from the artist]

large detail of "Welcome" as it appeared at the opening reception

It's the show I've been waiting for all year: On Friday Friedrich Petzel unveiled an exhibition of Joyce Pensato's works on, and through, paper (and paper wallboard). It's her second solo exhibition at the gallery. The 22nd Street debut of the expressionist "Eraser" last winter was a terrific show of exciting, drippy works on canvas. but I said then that I had always thought it was her inspired, frenzied, even violent encounters with paper that really got me off.

I also wrote then how much I liked seeing the beginnings of subtle bits of color in some of the paintings. Some of the drawings in the current show continue this exploration, at least one with an extraordinary vigor which makes the spectrum look like something Pensato had just invented on her own.

Finally, a word on the success of the giant and "engaging" characters portrayed in large wall murals installed at either end of the large room. Pensato has found a way to envelop (ensnare?) within her wacky, yet scary, but somehow always weirdly genial world both the kind of huge crowd which flooded the gallery during the opening reception and any smaller number of visitors wandering in on an ordinary day. I've now seen the show in both circumstances, and it worked perfectly each time.

I've uploaded images of three of the works below.

Joyce Pensato Lisa 2008 charcoal and pastel on paper 99" x 72" [installation view]


Joyce Pensato Duck-Mouse 2008 charcoal and pastel on paper 59.5" x 40" [installation view]


Joyce Pensato Kyle 2008 charcoal and pastel on paper 59.5" x 40" [installation view]

Meredith Allen Untitled_0460 digital C-print 18.25" x 18.25"

Meredith Allen Untitled_0420 digital C-print 18.25" x 18.25"

Meredith Allen Untitled_0538 digital C-print 18.25" x 18.25"

Meredith Allen Untitled_0462 digital C-print 18.25" x 18.25"

While I've known Meredith Allen for years, I've been following her documentary and art photography even longer. With each of the regular appearance of new bodies of very strong work, Allen has been able to open up the culture and the aesthetic of worlds most of us encounter regularly but would take pretty much for granted without the fact and the quality of her interventions.

Her latest series, "Trash", is very handsomely installed on the walls of the Edward Thorp Gallery on Eleventh Avenue for the rest of this week. The smart, whimsical and sometimes borderline-sad humor which was always a large part of Allen's earlier work is mostly gone in these modest-size, square photographs of filled and tied recycling bags. Instead there's a new, almost monumental aspect to these images, its solemn potential confounded probably just in time, in fact balanced perfectly, by the squashiness and ephemeral nature of the subjects, and also the delicate, yes, totally honest prettiness of the artist's captures.

I love every one of them, and I'm finding I didn't really need the jpegs near me to still see them in my head two days later.

[images from the artist]

Karen Heagle Death Valley 2008 acrylic and ink on paper 51.5" x 55" [installation view]

Karen Heagle Vulture with Carcass 2008 acrylic and ink on paper 54" x 52" [installation view]

Karen Heagle's second I-20 solo show, "She'll Get Hers", opened on November 1st, but I hadn't managed to see these latest paintings until Tuesday.


The expressionist take on her characteristic, deliciously-wacky assortment of subjects has the physical appeal of the child's "finger painting" kits which both attracted and repelled me as a child (I was too much of a neat freak to jump in). In these luscious paintings (acrylic on paper), describing vultures, rubbish, the painter's own tools, a coiled snake, at least one nude, a pregnant man, and a burning "bush" in the desert, Heagle's peculiar enthusiasms and almost reckless palette combine to chart a path which skims the borders of hell on the way to the celestial.

NOTE: I-20's site has these two images and four more. I wrestled with the decision, but I decided to use my own for this entry. There are unfortunately some reflection on the plexiglas, but I thought the colors in my shots were more true to the originals, and I really wanted to do all that I could to convey some of the energy and excitement I experienced standing in front of them.

Just remember that these imperfect copies can't begin to reproduce the paintings themselves - or their impact.

Tracey Baran No Looking Back 2005

I think it was 1997. The large color prints were lying in a stack on the bed, and they were among the most exciting things I'd seen in a very exciting fair, and now I was almost blind to everything else in this very busy room. Penny Liebman and Kathy Magnan, the two directors of what soon became Liebman Magnan Gallery, did not yet have a physical gallery space, as I remember, but they had decided to share with several other exhibitors one of the larger guest rooms in the old Gramercy Park Hotel, the original site of the Armory Show. They were showing the work of a young unknown photographer named Tracey Baran.

Barry and I bought two photographs on the spot.

We eventually ended up with several more. Very soon we had met the artist, and we regularly spoke to her at openings. At her very first show, in 1998, we were introduced to her parents, Roxanne and Joe, and several other members of her family. We didn't get to know Tracey well, but we often asked about her and inquired about her newest work. We couldn't help talking to others about the images - a lot. We probably talked up her art at least as often as we did any other artist whose work we're living with.

She was an extraordinary artist and a delight to be around.

On Monday we learned from Leslie Tonkonow, who has been showing her work for years, that Tracey had died the previous week. She had been hospitalized in July after suffering seizures and she never recovered. She was 33.

Two of her best friends are hosting a gathering Saturday evening, November 22, to remember and celebrate her life. It will be from 7:00 to 10:30 at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, 53 Prospect Park West. Barry and I will be there.

Links to more images:

Leslie Tonkonow

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Arratia, Beer

artnet (scroll down half way)


Tracey Baran I Miss You Already 2003

[images from Leslie Tonkonow]

Roberto Fabelo* large oil at Habana Galeria, Havana


[two details]


two works by Leon Ferrari, the first (text drawing, oil on wood) at Galaria Berenice Arvani, Sao Paolo; the second (print of Renaissance religious fresco used on bottom of birdcage, framed) at Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires

Francisco Toledo 1985 aquatint and woodcut, "a Mujer del Alacrán" [large detail], at Poligrafa, Barcelona

Fernando Bryce (imperial) installation at Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin

Matias Duville huge (distressed) acrylic on particle board at Galeria Alberto Sendros, Buenos Aires

Maria Freire 1969 acrylic on canvas at Sammer Gallery, Miami

Carmen Herrera 1974 acrylic on canvas at Latincollector, New York

Nelson Leirner sculpture at Bolsa de Arte, Porto Alegre

Los Super Elegantes t-shirt at de la Barra, London

PINTA 08 is going on right now, and it's definitely worth a visit. It would be enough if we were being offered only one of its two elements, but the organizers purposely describe the fair as host to both the "modern" and the "contemporary" art of Latin America. I found some wonderful surprises, including artists and work of whom my ignorance was pretty embarrassing.

I won't go into the question of why New York still needs separate exhibitions or events to display the work of artists living outside Europe or the U.S., or whether we will always need this separation, although I think I just gave one good answer in the preceding paragraph. In any event, on the evidence of the great, but largely unfamiliar stuff (created over the last half century or so and up to the present) being shown on 18th street through tomorrow, we absolutely do need this one.

I'm not going to say much here, because this post is time-sensitive and already overdue, but I wanted to add some installation shots of my own to those Barry has already put up, along with his comments, to suggest some of the variety to be found at this very comfortably-sized fair.

I expect that come January 20 we're going start seeing a lot more art from Cuba around these parts. Okay, I have to mention that I'm also wondering about the identity and significance of the little man in the top pot in this gorgeous painting: Does he look familiar?


Does anyone know anything about this somewhat sequestered seating sculpture sitting in the center of Ascenzi Square?

The triangular square was named the Ascenzi family which once lived nearby. Four brothers fought and two died during the War to End All Wars. Could the four-place bench be intended for these siblings?

ADDENDUM: For those who've asked, Ascenzi square is located in Williamsburg, where Metropolitan Avenue is crossed by North 4th Street.

"Wanting things a certain way doesn't limit my utopic thinking."

"Our civilization values space over historical time"

"Oh, that's just Booker"

[three stills from the installation of the video of "Cloud Cuckoo Land", the quotes below each not necessarily matched to the scenes in which the lines occurred]

Wow. Do we need this now. Do we need this now? Do we need this now!


Aristophanes's "The Birds", whose "Cloud-Cookoo-Land" utopia inspired the title of Erik Moskowitz and Amanda Trager's video and sculptural installation at Moment Art is described as the first play to question the idea of human progress. In the 414 BC comedy two men, "Mr. Trusting" and "Mr. Hopeful", have fled the old world and together with a friendly Hoopoe and all the other birds, they go about erecting a perfect city in the clouds. In the end their utopia, or dream of an egalitarian state, is transformed into a dictatorship.

Moskowitz and Trager's own narrative collaboration involves a small family, the conventional home from which they walk away, the progressive commune which they join, and the hopes which they see dashed. Their disturbing 17-minute musical video is installed at Momenta in the midst of the sets and scrims used in its creation.

This is from the gallery's statement:

The familiar boundaries to which [the main character] clings and the unclear spatial relations within the gallery coalesce and call into question how we envision comfort and safety both societally and psychologically.

Helmut Newton Naomi Campbell, Cap d`Antibes 1998 c-print

I'm tempted to describe it as heroic, but Paddy would laugh at me. Art Fag City's post brushing off frivolous claims of copyright infringement made by lawyers on behalf of Alice Springs, Helmut Newton's widow June, is spot-on.

And I'm not unacquainted with the discussion of photography and "fair use" myself, but AFC offers a full accounting of a real-life scenario, and help to all bloggers in the form of copies of documents and links, ending:

Kowtowing to wrongfull copyright infringement claims is a dangerous precident I’m not willing to set.

[image from artnet via AFC]

inside the gallery the caption reads: Yuri Kozyrev Iraq 2007 US forces mark Iraqis with serial numbers to track movements in and out of village

inside the gallery the caption reads: Jared Moossy Afghanistan 2007 An [sic] wounded American soldier is airlifted by helicopter in eastern Afghanistan

I really, really would like to get away from what my grammar school teachers called "current events" and what I call "matters of life and death", and go back to posting about the fine arts, but my intentions are being confounded by both events and the art. Yesterday, after visiting the group installation "The Ballot Show", about you-know-what, at the Front Room Gallery in Williamsburg, I headed a little further west to the Sideshow Gallery's "Battlespace: Unrealities of War", and there I almost lost it.

These are images by 23 photographers "embedded" with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under the terms of their being allowed there they are forbidden to publish, in their regular commercial news outlets, the more violent images of injury and death hanging on the walls in this gallery. And so the wars go on, with the citizens who sustain them easily able to ignore the worst of what is being done in their name to both American troops and the "enemy".

People elsewhere in the world don't have this luxury; they've been shown such photographs since the wars began.

While in the gallery I couldn't quite bring myself to photograph the most obscene images of mutilations and carnage. I cannot explain why, even to myself, especially since broadcasting them is precisely the intent of the photographers and the purpose of this installation.

I found the Battlespace site itself only a few minutes ago, so I'm using its images rather than my own, and, hoping to redeem myself for my timidity yesterday, I've decided to upload below one of the most powerful images I saw, one which I did not capture with my camera. I should add that it is not the most grotesque: This body was still living, and being attended by medical personnel.

Inside the gallery on Bedford Street the wounded soldier on the table appears almost, literally, "life size". The scale in which it appears online can barely suggest the horror of what you are actually looking at.

inside the gallery the caption reads: Lucian Read Iraq 2006 American soldier lies on an operating table in Ramadi after being wounded in an IED blast

Visit the exhibition itself before it closes next Sunday. You will never forget it.

[all images from Battlespace]

Vicki Sher_nurture benefit submission.jpeg
Vicki Sher untitled 2006 mixed media on cardboard 9" x 12"

Earlier this week I wrote that I would announce it if NURTUREart were to continue to make art included in its 2008 Benefit available on line for those who were unable to be there last Monday, so here it is.

Barry had set up a mechanism some months back by which artists were able to furnish JPEGs to the Benefit's curators. He's now used it to make those which weren't grabbed that night both visible around the world and easily purchased, so go to the site now and have fun: This way you get to search for more about the artists, and then order at leisure.

The image at the top is of one of the dozens of pieces now being shown on line, each available for the incredibly low price of $150, the same as they were that night. Although I'm familiar with and really like the artist's work, and this particular piece, I've chosen Vicki Sher's drawing almost at random, to reflect the quality of the art you'll see on the site.

[image provided by the artist, via NURTUREart]

war machine [still from the video]

In 1969 14-year-old Jerry Levitan managed to get into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto's King Edward Hotel with his reel-to-reel recorder where he interviewed his idol for the school paper. Nearly 40 years later Levitan produced an animated film documenting and illustrating what he heard and what he captured on tape in conversation with the Walrus that day.

A short excerpt of Lennon thrashing out war and change, from "I Met The Walrus":

It's up to the people . . . you can't blame it on the gov'ment and say they're doing it. Oh, they're going to put us into war. We put them there. We allow it, you know, and we can change it; if we really want to change it we can change it.

"Walrus" was written and directed by Josh Raskin, with illustrations by James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina, and animation by Josh Raskin.

[image is a screen grab from YouTube, but I first heard about it today from scatteredsisters, a site maintained by a good friend in Antwerp together with her siblings dispersed about the globe]

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from November 2008.

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