january 7, 2007 / museum dash
A week ago, on New Year's eve, my daughter had a playdate with a friend on the westside, and I had about three hours to occupy, so I decided to take a quick run to see a museum show — or two if I had time. I had been eager to see the small Mark Grotjahn show at the Whitney of his "butterfly" designs, a series which he has been engaged for some years, and which I absolutely love. This, installation had eight or so large drawings (on the order of 6' high by 4' wide) done in graphite or colored pencil. Fantastic work.

After I left the Whitney, I hopped in a cab and rushed up to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum to see the Design Triennial. I saw the previous Triennial, and loved it, so this was a must see and I wasn't disappointed. Highly recommended and up through July 29. After a quick visit to the excellent bookstore, I flagged down another cab to zip back towards Lincoln Center to pick up the girl.


 

december 28 / MOMA
Friday I managed to get to MOMA to see the Brice Marden show. First, I wandered around to see what else was there which turned out to be a very good idea. The high point was seeing Pipilotti Rist's Ever Is All Over a video installation from 1997. The piece is made-up of two overlapping video projections. On one side rolls and pans over lush, perhaps tropical vegetation bathed in sunlight. The other shows a woman in a elegant light blue dress strolling down a car-lined street holding a long flower stalk. Periodically she swings the yard-long stalk, smashing car side windows. There is a soundtrack which helps to add a sense of bouyancy to things — some kind of guitar centered instrumental piece. At one point a police officer strolls by and gives a friendly wave. I found it mesmerizing, and watched the looped piece several times.

I also very much liked seeing some poster size screen prints of Eduardo Paolozzi in a big show called Eye On Europe, Prints, Books and Multiples, 1960 to Now. The Paolizzi's images are very mod 60's images with great electric color. I finished up with the Marden show. The show is very good, although I didn't get truly excited until the last three rooms (most recent paintings).


 

december 17 / Chelsea galleries
Lyle Starr
at Alona Kagan / 540 W29 / November 3 - December 23
I first saw Lyle Starr's work at a great gallery that used to be on W14th Street — the Tate Gallery. They consistently showed exciting new artists. At that Tate show, Starr was using silhouettes of a whole variety of things, and they were nested one inside the other. After that, the next show I saw, at a Soho space, the images shifted to just figures and they became overlapping with the complex patterns of transparency seen in the current show. The work is consistently strong with great color and trippy effects as the eye puzzles to make sense of the color shifts and recognize the bodily forms.

  LyleStarrAtAlonaKaganGallery  
  Lyle Starr painting  

  Jonathan Callan / Nicole Klagsburn / 526 W26 / dec 1 - jan 6
Part of a group show, Jonathan Callan's "A Note for Guests" jumped out at me for the way it transformed an everyday object into something strange and somewhat visually arresting. I love when simple materials can be transformed into something new, messy, more complex (see also Phoebe Washburn's 2004 installation at LFL, Nothing's Cutie or Tara Donovan's Untitled (Plastic Cups) at Pace Wildenstein in March of this year).
 
  Jonathan Callan book piece  

  Tim Lokiec at LFL / 530 W24
The main show here actually is another artist (Tal R), but there are a couple of piece by Tim Lokiec in the back which I was more interested in. This modest sized painting on paper (below) caught my eye. I like the mix of the simple portrait together with the thick arrangement of doodle-like designs. They are more than doodles, but they do have that casual feel and run-together arrangement.
  Tim Lokiec painting on paper

 

Saint Clair Cemin, Jac Leirner, James Hyde / Sikkema Jenkins & Co / 530 W22 / dec 14 - jan 27
I've seen lots of great installations here since Brent Sikkema became Sikkema Jenkins & Co earlier this year. The space works wonderfully wtih the shows they've been doing, and makes the old space seem cramped. I've long found Saint Clair Cemin's work interesting without really being very taken by it — or perhaps fully understanding what he was getting at. Here, the multiple Supercuia pieces really grabbed me. The breast or phallus-like forms come in multiple hot colors as well as polished steel. There was one other more naturalistic but still strange and striking piece (in polished steel also).

On one large wall (below) there is Jac Leirner's, "144 Museum Bags." While the critique of comsumer fetishism is a strain of art I tend to find tiresome at this point (please, no more Barbara Kruger), I thought the Leirner piece fit in well with the show and had a nice wan humor.

  installation view Sikkema Jenkins & Co  
  Saint Clair Cemin Supercuia blue and silver Saint Clair Cemin Supercuia white
  While I was not so interested in James Hyde's work in this show, there was one piece which I did grab me. "Lounge" from 1998 is a awkward blocky-form mounted on the wall with a slathered on surface done up in a beautiful bright green. The ungainly and tactlle piece also starts to seem a bit figurative as I look at it more.
  James Hyde

  Color Aside / Luhring Augustine / 531 W24 / nov 4 - dec 23
This show included work by a couple of two very different artists whose work I have long enjoyed — Christopher Wool and George Condo. Condo is a complete master of a goofy surrealist period Picasoid drawing style. It's a little hard to read the figures in the image below as they are massed unusually densely. Christopher Wool's big canvas's drawn with black paint on a white surface use messy but gorgeous erasures, and are just great to look at.
  George Condo painting  
  Christopher Wool painting 1 Christopher Wool painting 2

  at the movies / december 16
I've seen a number of good movies recently. First was the new James Bond movie, Casino Royale. I thought it lived up to the buzz. The new Bond is handsome, gritty and somewhat dark. The romance has some real feeling and, in the end, real tradgedy to it. And the action is correographed wonderfully with surprises which raised them up to "a whole 'nother level."

A week and a half ago I saw the new David Lynch film, Inland Empire. In NYC it's screening only at the Independent Film Center in the West Village, which I hadn't been to since it opened (sometime in the last year or so). It feels a bit like a more comfortable version of Film Forum in Tribecca, although my 3rd row seat was tilted back so far I felt like I was in a barcalounger.

Apparently after failing to find a distributor, Lynch is handling that himself. Inland Empire is more artpiece than movie, and while sharing a primary theme with Mulholland Dr., won't appeal to the relatively wide audience it did. Although Mulholland Dr. could be challenging to fully make sense of, I thought one could be leave it in a state of mystery and still like it. It felt organic, had great performances, beautiful imagery and fine cinematography. Inland Empire was shot on digital video (handheld I believe) and looses some of the great visual pleasure Lynch is so good at. There are striking images and scenes but here it's in washed out greys and yellows and has a lo-res look.

Perhaps I failed to watch closely enough, but after the first quarter or so of the movie, I lost a sense of what was going on narratively. While much of the film is emotionally dark, it ends on an upbeat note which felt sort of arbitrary. My favorite parts of the movie were several scenes of a group of hookers doing dances — to "The Locomotion" and under the end credits, Nina Simone's "Sinnerman" (with one of the women lip-syncing the lyrics).

Friday I saw, the new Almodovar movie, Volver. It's a great movie by a filmmaker who seems beautifully in his stride. The stories are complex but told with ease. The performances are spot-on. And of course there is great visual style. A few gems: great animated end-credits; a beautifully composed shot from overhead of Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) standing at a kitchen sink, her cleavage artfully displayed; a scene where Raimunda, with her dead husband's blood on her neck, answers the door, and brushes off a question about the blood as "women's troubles." There's a dark mystery at the center of the movie that interestingly is introduced almost casually, and as things progress Almodovar gently manages to find humor in the situation.


  november 17
Enoc Perez
at Mitchell-Innes and Nash / 534 W26 / oct 19 – nov 25
This show felt like something of a shift to me. I've loved Perez's work and delighted when I happened on it. His work often has a sensuality about it: snapshot images of young women at parties, and swanky hotel architecture in sunny locales. In this show however, his first at this gallery, a shift of subject to NYC modernist architectural landmarks seems to dictate — to some disappointment on my part — a more restrained, cooler emotion. Color is kept more in check. My favorite was the "TWA terminal" (2006, 86 x 116")(below)
  Enoc Perez TWA Terminal

 

wandering manhattan on beautiful autumn day / friday, october 2
After a busy month, I decided to make an easy day of it which included catching a couple of current public art projects, a few galleries and a movie. The movie was "Little Children" directed by Todd Field ("In the Bedroom") with Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson. I liked this a lot, although be warned it is very disturbing. Kate Winslet is consistently exceptional and has choosen some great rolls (okay we'll try to ignore that uber-schlock boat movie). She was great in Enormous Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of my favorite movies of the last couple of years. All in all, she is perhaps my favorite actress, and on that basis alone I would recommend it.

  I started the day by walking up Park Avenue from Grand Central to see Sarah Morris's temporary design for the lobby-plaza ceiling at Lever House. I love her work which is built around a schematicized grid of skyscrapper exteriors in perspective. The color (look at that red and yellow!) is fabulous.
  Sarah Morris at Lever House
  Next I stopped at Rockefeller Center to see the installation by Anish Kapoor, "Sky Mirror." Note, the exposure is obviously off in the second image — the brightness of the mirror throws it off.
  Anish Kapoor Sky Mirror convex
  Anish Kapoor Sky Mirror concave

  After the movie, I headed to Chelsea to catch a couple of gallery shows. The Lisa Yuskavage show at David Zwirner was a must see. On the way I dropped in to see a group show at Bellwether, "Dice Thrown" curated by Joao Ribas and Becky Smith (the gallerist). Wow. This is one of the great things about going to galleries. Sometimes you just drop-in, not really sure what's up, and you're surprised with amazing stuff. I don't think I've seen any of these artist's work before. This is one of the best group shows I've seen in the last few months. Pictured first below are two installations by Amanda Ross-Ho. The first is a series of photos on a table under glass. Strange collections of things. The second installation uses framed inkjet prints on aluminum hung on a unpainted sheetrock wall.
  Amanda Ross-Ho photo installation 1 Amanda Ross-Ho installation 2  
  Amanda Ross-Ho installation 3    

  Also really great was this photo (below) by Elspeth Diederix, "Utah / Post-It" (54 x 41" C-Print). Amazing how the pink square transforms the photo.
  Elspeth Diederix Utah Post-It
  Elspeth Diederix detail

  The Yuskavage show was predictably beautiful with all the lovely painting that she has previously shown. The conscious echoing of the breasts and beach-ball bellies is both slightly goofy and gorgeously rendered.
  Lisa Yuskavage 1 Lisa Yusakavage detail

  Lisa Yuskavage 2
  Lisa Yuskavage 3


 

 

gallery hopping / saturday, october 7
I decided to try an experiment of doing more of a documentation of an afternoon of gallery hopping, rather than just pick a show or two to mention. Last weekend I did my first gallery outing in September; I covered Chelsea north of 23rd Street. I start the documentation with today's visits, doing Chelsea from 14th Street to W23rd.

I took photos where something was especially interesting but I'll mention anyplace I went to give things a context.
 
  1. GBE Passerby (W15) / Group show. The installation has a loose feel, with the different artist's work running together producing nice messy interactions. They do group shows well here. I'm not familiar with any of these artists.

I have to start off by appoligizing for the photography here; I could've done better with the Samara Caughey piece below.
 
  Samara Caughey detail  

  2. New York City finally has a Frank Gehry building (W18th & 11th Ave) which I have been excited to see go up. Last spring on a rainy windy day I was almost hit by a giant peice of styrofoam that blew off the open steel skeleton of the building under construction. I kind of like it, but it's not gorgeous like the Disney concert hall in L.A. (the Gehry building I got to see).  

 
new Frank Gehry building
 

3. Bellwether (10th Ave) / Main show is titled "axis mundi" by Everest Hall. I really dislike the paintings; still lives with things like an acrylic skull in them. Something in me says ick. But a second show by Karen Dow in a small room is really interesting. A year or two ago I saw a show at Bellwether (when they were still in Williamsburg) of her work that I really loved. The surfaces are completely broken into rectangles using some really satisfying color. This time there is somewhat of a shift; things were flat before but now there are hints of figure-ground relationship, and archetectural motifs. My first reaction is I like it less, but still it has intrigued and stuck with me.

 
 
Karen Dow painting
  4. John McCracken @ David Zwirner (W19) / The gallery has just expanded to almost Gagosian-like size, but I still like the space (I don't like the monumental tomb-like Gagosian space and like to avoid it). One of the two shows up is John McCracken whom I love. His last show here had so much amazing color, and of course the surfaces of the pieces were amazing. This time everything is black, except one silver piece. The black pieces are nice, and as usual, taking the time to observe the beautiful reflections on the surfaces is rewarding. The big joy for me however is the lone silver piece which is highly reflective and by reflecting the walls, corners and so on, invites lots and lots of looking.
  John McCracken view 1 John McCracken view 2 John McCracken view 3
  John McCracken view 4 John McCracken view 5 John McCracken view 6

  5. Elizabeth Dee Gallery (W20) / Paintings by somebody named Sean Paul which are uninteresting to me. However in a back room which I can see only through a large window is a vitrine piece by Josephine Meckseper which catches my attention. She had a couple of pieces in the last Whitney Biennial (last fall) which I thought were great. Visually striking with strong social commentary. Here's a long shot of the backroom piece; I couldn't really see it well enough to get a very good sense of it but I'll definitely be watching out for her work now.
  Josephine Meckseper

  6. Feigen (W20) / Brian Salt (installation) & Elizabeth Huey (paintings). The elaborate Brian Salt installation had some things like electrical buzzers to play with and a very old stereogram which was really beautiful and made me want to do some reasearch to find more of them.
  7. Anton Kern (W20) / Jim Lambie (sculpture) and Brian Calvin (somewhat Alex Katz-like paintings but wierder). Jim Lambie is an artist who did these great pieces where he used colored tapes on the floor in concentric patterns that followed the shape of the room. Pretty much everything else he's done doesn't interest me and this goes for his current pieces here. I don't see the relation between these seemingly allergorical representational work and the tape things which strike me as about pure visual pleasure. Somehow I respect the program at this gallery although it's been awhile since I really like a show here.
  8. Protest (W21?) / I don't know if this is a new gallery or a one-off show. The artist has done a critique of images of women from mass-media (overly skinny fashion models, etc) by fixing individual images to canvas and filling the gallery with them. I'm afraid it doesn't have anything to say that isn't already widely know nor does the artist give us any insight into the issue.
  9. Anna Kustera (W21) / A three person show. I thought the paintings by Stephanne Campos were the most interesting although although I don't care for the thick impasto paint application. Reductive paintings of rectangular shapes on in black on a white ground.
  10. Kravets-Wehby (W21) / Paintings by Charlie Roberts. Some good strangeness. I always like to check this gallery although it's not my usual taste.
  Charlie Roberts

  11. Casey Kaplan (W21) / paintings/drawings on sheets of newspaper by Gabriel Vormstein, an artist I've not seen before. Casey Kaplan's new space which opened sometime last year is so much better than the cave-like space they had on 14th Street. It always just made me miss their old Soho space, and it took away from the art. Apparently, here Mr. Vormstein is cycling through a variety of styles from the history of modernism.
  Gabriel Vormstein painting

  12. Tanya Bonakdar (W21) / Here's another case the gallery space affects my feeling for the gallery. They've expanded from their previous 2nd floor space down to include a large, airy street level space. Maybe the program has become more ambitious at the same time. Downstairs there was a large installation by Rivane Neuenschwander with colored circles of paper visible through a translucent drop cieling. Fans cause the colored circles to dance around a bit. I liked the idea but thought it could have somehow have had more wow. Upstairs were several pieces by different artists. A small installation by Ian Kiaer ("Endless House Project") caught my eye. I had seen his work here before and really enjoyed his use of delicate pink painted surfaces. There was one in the installation which I photographed, but I didn't catch the subtle qualities; the canvas below is only one part of the installation.
  Ian Kiaer detail

  13. Alfred Jensen / "The Number Paintings" / Pace Wildenstein (W22) / If you don't know, Jensen long worked with numbers and color. While the concept is interesting, I've never been much drawn to what he did.
  14. Susan Inglett (W22) / Drawings in ink on paper by Hope Gangloff. This used to be Sandra Gehring's space. A small interesting space with a glass front wall. I guess Sandra Gehring has moved uptown (eastside?) which I'm sorry about because I don't make it to uptown galleries very often.
  Hope Gangloff painting

  15. Fredrich Petzel (W22) / Conceptual paintings by Georg Herold which I don't like although I hestitate to say something like that when I barely give them any time.
  16 Matthew Marks (W22) / Ugo Ronadine / There was a single round painting by Ronadine nicely visible throught the window of this space which wasn't open. I love the op quality of his sprayed target. He's an artist though who's often into high (and obscure) concept, and other work I've seen the last couple of years has held negative interest for me.
  Ugo Ronadine through window

  17. D'Amelio Terras (W22) / Sara Van Der Beck / I looked only briefly. Snap description: surrealist photos.
  18. Andrew Kreps Gallery (W22) / Group show. They do a lot of exception group installations here and this one includes two artists I'm not familiar with that I especially liked. Two pieces by Padraig Timoney, and a cluster of photos by Peter Piller, "Girls Shooting" (2000-2006)
  Padraig Timoney piece Padraig Timoney detail  
  Peter Piller Girls Shooting  
  Peter Piller detail 1 Peter Pillar detail 2

  *19. 303 Gallery / Karen Klimnik / Continuation of the small fanciful paintings she does. I know that's an inadequate description, but I'm not going to attempt something fuller here.
  Karen Klimnik Snow White

  20. Perry Rubenstein (W23) / Jesper Just / Large room with video projection. Can't say much about it. I don't tend to like the vaguely narrative video stuff and only stayed briefly. So much of it seems annoyingly obscure but I should stop because I didn't see enough here to give an intelligent assessment.
  21. Goff & Rosenthal (W23) / Isca Greenfield Sanders / Paintings of people by pools. Quick impression: nice but perhaps too nice. Seems to be getting a moderate amount of attention, but I'm not sure what the story is.
  22. Karen Golden (W23) / Nicolia Lopez / Large elaborate drawings

  23. Leo Koenig (W23) / Greg Bogin / I've like his work for a few years. I first saw his paintings 7 or 8 years ago when Koening was on Broadway below Canal. I think they were a little rougher than which maybe was a strength. What I like is there abject relation to office decor and perhaps the greater refinement contradicts this; but still I like them, especially the two with raindbow motifs in them.
  Greg Bogin 1
  Greg Bogin 2 Greg Bogin 3

  24. Morgan Lehman Gallery (10th Avenue) / Jeff Perrot / Paintings, video and installation. The paintings are a lot of fun. Very good color and obvious optical zing.  
  Jeff Perrot 1 Jeff Perrot 2
  And that's the end of the afternoon. Email comments to evanread@verizon.net

  Previous Entries: Summer 2006  


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