vol6 | june08 to Apr09+

Galleries / Mar 09

This was a wonderful installation of polaroids taken by Philip-Lorca diCorcia over about 25 years. A total of 1000 images culled from 4000 shot by the artist were installed edge to edge on a little shelf that ran around the gallery and into a small specially constructed room at one end of the gallery. I'd never been too drawn in by the artist's large-scale work, but here I was completely captivated. David Zwirner / 525 W19th / feb 27 - mar 28.
polaroids by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia
polaroids by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia
polaroids by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia

In this group exhibition, "It's Not You It's Me", at Andrew Kreps (525 W22nd / mar 14 - apr 25), there was one piece that really grabbed me, a collage by Hans Peter Feldman, which is anchored by the faces of several women. I love this somewhat obsessive kind of collecting and arrangement. I saw a similarly structured collage at the Neu Museum last year; anyone remember that piece and who the artist was?
large collage by Hans Peter Feldman

This was one of several collages by the artist William Cordova in a seven person show, "Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry" at Sikkema Jenkins & Co (530 W22nd, feb 28 - mar 28, curated by Sima Familant). Love the use of silver foil.
collage by William Cordova

Andrea Rosen (525 W24th) had a show (mar 14 - apr 18) of the London-based artist, Michael Raedecker. The pieces are a beautiful combination of painting and stitching.
mixed media - painting and stiching - by Michael Raedecker
detail of artwork by Michael Raedecker

New painitings by Lisa Yuskavage at David Zwirner (525 W19th St / feb 19 - mar 28). The interesting development for me was the introduction of a fantastical landscape in some of the pieces. Check out the March 2009 issue of the Brooklyn Rail, which has an excellent interview with her.
painting by Lisa Yuskavage

This is from a show of the work of Michael St. John and others at Marvelli Gallery (526 W26, 2nd floor, apr 9 - may 9). This St. John piece reflecting on the 2008 Presidential election caught my attention. In general, I hate political art, but this piece captured something more than the usual dull illustration-level propaganda of the genre.
Obama artwork by Michael St-John

Mitchell-Innes and Nash (534 W26th St, apr 2 - may 2) did a survey of the Pop artist Allan D'Arcangelo (1930-1998). He's not someone I was familiar with before, but given my own interests as an artist, it wasn't surprising that I was taken by a painting like this one melding minimal abstraction and simple representational form.
painting by Allan D'Arcangelo

Galleries / Feb 09

David Zwirner had a great Fred Sandback show in their spacious galleries on West 25th (Jan 9 - Feb 14, 2009). I hadn't seen a good show of his work since the DIA Foundation did a great survey (Sept 96 - Jan 98) in their now-closed Chelsea outpost. Of course, it's hard to capture in photos what's amazing about these pieces. One gets an uncanny sense that the planes outlined by these simple pieces of yarn are solid; they exist as something much more than open space. The contradiction between what one knows in the rational mind versus the strong bodily sense that something is there makes these simple constructions riveting.
second artwork by Fred Sandback
artwork by Fred Sandback
third artwork by Fred Sandback

Zach Feuer Gallery (W24th) has a show of Justin Lieberman work built around a Philip K. Dick novel, The Corrector in the High Castle. The book imagines a world 50 years after a German and Japanese victory in World War II. The protagonist of the story is a Japanese man who collects American Pop cultural debris — comic books, newspapers, Beanie Babies, cereal boxes and so on. In the installation, this pack rat collection of stuff is all thickly coated with clear acrylic resin with numerous stalactites dripping down. It does have this strange look of an odd character's dusty museum of a lost era. The pop colors in things like the comic books and cereal boxes really light up some the objects in a wonderful way despite the overall sad and decrepit feel.
part of installation by Justin Lieberman
part of installation by Justin Lieberman

I didn't spend a lot of time at the Andrea Zittel show at Andrea Rosen (525 W25th through Mar 7), but I probably should go back. Since then, I've been grappling with trying to get a better understanding of what's going on in her work. For more than ten years I've been familiar with her smartly designed compact, portable living units. Recently, I discoverd these coolsmocks. In doing a little research, I came across a couple of good interviews. In 2002 at SuperNaturale, Zittel talks about the uneasy relationship of art to craft, and her desire to make craft "progressive." In another excellent piece, a 2008 interview at OregonLive.com, she discusses how her interest in living space evolved out of the challenges she faced given her own small quarters and need for the basics (food, clothing, furniture) when she had first moved to NYC. When I saw the current show, I just snapped this one drawing, which caught my attention because of a relationship to some drawings I did a few years ago. I the love the connection to both architecture (rectangular spaces), as well as crochet or knitting (linear yarn-like line). (Feb 18, '09)
drawing by Andrea Zittel

Galleries / Nov 08

These are shows I saw mostly back in November but hadn't had time to post about. I've been too busy and distracted by a variety of things. (jan 22, '09)

This was a great show at David Zwirner (525 W19th / Oct 30 - Dec 23) of the London based, German born, artist, Tomma Abts. It was great to see more of her work so soon after last year's excellent New Museum show. She has instantly catapulted into the ranks of my favorite artists.
painting by Tomma Abts another painting by Tomma Abts
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I particularly liked this painting from the Jeff Elrod show at Leo Koenig (545 W23rd / Oct 17 - Nov 15). These paintings were all built around a single drawing done with a computer mouse; Elrod has used this kind of drawing in his paintings for quite awhile. The gallery's artist statement refers to an "exploration between the two worlds of digital anonymity and analog variation" as well as the "smooth detached aesthetic" of the mouse drawing. What fascinates me is the kind of clumsy junk that is easy to make with drawing software (especially early Mac software like MacDraw or MacPaint). It's horrifyingly, and therefor delicious to embrace and make something interesting out of it.
Jeff Elrod painting

Another show I was really thrilled to see was Larry Pittman at Gladstone Gallery (530 W21 / Oct 24 - Nov 30). I've been following his work since the mid-80's, and I would call his work an early influence on my own; I was pulled in by the beautifully executed graphic style, the love of pattern and the over the top use of pop imagery. While his work has been very consistent formally over the years, there is one tasty innovation in these works — translucent viels of color in selected areas. The gallery statment relates this series of paintings to Dutch and Flemish Vanitas still lives, which is interesting, but something which I'm not sure would ever have occurred to me on my own.
Larry Pittman painting another Larry Pittman painting
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Excellent show of sixties, Frank Stella paintings of at Van De Weghe Fine Art (521 W23rd / Nov 8 - Dec 20). These paintings look incredibly fresh despite the passage of 40 plus years.
Frank Stella painting
Frank Stella painting

Recent Chelsea Outings

John McCracken at David Zwirner (525 W19th / Sept 11 - Oct 18).
John McCracken sculpture
John McCracken sculpture

Sue Williams at David Zwirner (525 W19th).
Sue Williams painting

One of a large series of Doug Aitken watercolors, which was part of an installation in a specially constructed round room at 303 Gallery (525 W22nd). There were also a couple of strong lightbox installations shaped into letters spelling out WEST and STAR. See the gallery website for more images.
Doug Aitken watercolor

Photographs by Demetrius Oliver at D'Amelio Terras (525 W22nd).
photograph by Demetrius Oliver

Phoebe Washburn at Zach Feuer (530 W24th). This was one small part of an elabortate installation, Tickle the Shitstem.
part of Phoebe Washburn installation

Robert Indiana at Paul Kasmin (293 10th Ave near W27th / closes nov 1). The 2nd images is Electric EAT (78 x 78 inches).
Robert Indiana number pieces at Paul
Kasmin
Robert Indiana electric EAT sign

Diving Bell

still from
still from
Stills from "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." (Sept 17)

Hate Jasper Johns

I hate Jasper Johns. I have for quite awhile. Of course the early target and flag paintings are great icons, but since then he has gone on a long slow downward path. Next subject please. (Tuesday, Sept 16)

Music is the Weapon

I hit a really ugly dark (emotional) patch this week. This morning though, I'm seeing some light. A few things came together to help shift things. Part of it had to do with a change in routine. On my way to the dayjob, I made a detour through Central Park. I wanted to scope out the line situation for the free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park's Hair. Arriving at the line in Central Park, I quized a few people about how long they had been there. The first person I asked said something like 6:30. Ehh. That's not going to be easy for me. A little ways back it was 7:00, and then down the line I was told 8:00. Some sort of line monitor had told these last folks they should be assured of getting tickets. Since they don't start distributing tickets until 1PM, you want to be sure the wait will be fruitful. Some folks were sleeping on garments or blankets laid out on the hard pavement which looks like a rough price to exact for tixs; I think I'll bring a beach chair, some snacks, the newspaper and a good book.

Afterward I headed past the Great Lawn towards 5th Avenue. It was a perfect, sunny but mild morning with just a few people on the pathways.

I switched on my iPod, set to shuffle. A jolt of eurphoria kicked in as listened first to Gnarls Barkley's "Online", followed by Cat Power droning "We All Die", and then Tapes n' Tapes "Ten Gallon Ascot" which was the coup de grace with it's couple of sudden shifts to ferocious walls of guitar. I'm in a different world than I was yesterday! (Thursday, August 14)

Summer of Love

Shakespeare in the Park's new production of Hair got a great review in last Thursday's Times. One of the things I learned from the review is that Karole Armitage did the choreography. Armitage is someone I'd long been aware of, but hadn't ever made it to see. I had vague associations about an early punk period, and a romantic link to the painter David Salle. Several days before reading the review, I had gotten interested in another performance featuring Armitage called "Summer of Love" at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors summer festival. The project is a collaboration with the musical group Burkina Electric -- which is itself a collaboration between Lukas Ligeti, and several others, including a singer and guitarist from Burkina Faso.

Having had a bad experience with the crowds the night before (sitting too far back and the disappointing distraction of people endlessly coming and going) at a double bill of Noche Flamenco and the guitarist Stephane Wrembel, I arrived for "Summer" about a half hour early, in order to get a better seat. It was a gorgeous summer afternoon, not too hot. The stage of the amphitheater has no curtain, so one could see the dancer's doing warm-ups; this was especially cool, because the mod costumes by Peter Speliopoulos are a complete delight, and it added to the anticipation of the coming performance. "Summer of Love" turned out to be completely amazing. The dance was flavored by both club and African dance, and was hip, fun and sexy; the infectious music, a combination of bouyant african guitar and underlying electronic keyboard lines along with the singer's strong clear vocals in several languages. Wow, this was one the best performances of any kind, I have ever seen. It was billed as a preview, and the actual premiere isn't scheduled until the end of the year in Italy. I would love to see it again, perhaps next year, when I presume it will make it back to New York in final form. (Friday, August 8)

NPR Jazz Profiles

Up until recently I hadn't really gotten insterested in using podcasts much. But I found a series of NPR profiles of jazz figures that is wonderfully done. They range from 30 to 60 minutes an episode and some are multi-part. Favorites listens so far include those on Sarah Vaugn, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, and Gene Ammons. This morning as I walked to work listening to part 2 of the Basie profile, I was completely groovin' to a 1937 recording of One O'Clock Jump. I'm going to be searching for some more Basie CDs. Until now, one of the few I've had is the monumental April in Paris album. The NPR site has quite a few episodes available as downloads that aren't listed on the iTunes store. (June 25)

Summer Revampage

Things with the blog have been stagnating. A combination of limited time to work at it, a series of modest format tweaks whose cumulative benefit is questionable, and a need to find some new inspiration have combined to force the issue for me. So I'm going to make some changes, although I haven't formulated exactly what I want to do. I'd like it to be somewhat more freeform. Part of that I think with mean paring back the writing even more; the core of what I've wanted to do all along has been image-based. (June 24)

Catch-Up

For a couple of months while I was working on a project in my own studio, I wasn't able to catch as many shows as I usually would. So since late May, I've been doing some catch-up. At the top of my agenda was to see the Tomma Abts show at the Neu Museum. I wish I could say it were up a little longer, but it closes June 29. The show was absolutely revelatory -- one of the best shows of the year. I'm going to pilfer this image from the Tate museum's '06 Turner Prize show so I can provide an example. The paintings are small (on the order of 15-18" high) and all the same size. (June 21)
painting by Tomma Abts
This last weekend I caught a good number of shows in Chelsea. A few highlights follow. At Gladstone on W21st Street is a great show of a sculptor who I haven't paid much attention to in the past, Anish Kapoor. The pieces are large mirror polished metal sculptures that produce lots of wierd distorted reflections. I didn't photograph this well enough so you'll have to follow the gallery link, or go by before it closes (August 15).

The German painter Gabi Hamm at Perry Rubenstein (through July 2nd, 527 W23rd).
painting by German painter Gabi Hamm landscape by German painter Gabi Hamm painting by German painter Gabi Hamm

At Max Protech (511 W22nd St) there was a very good show of Ann Pibal paintings. This one (below) had a wierdness factor that I really liked.
painting by Ann Pibal at Max Protech

At Bellwether until July 3 is Adam Cvijanovic's "Collasal Spectacle". I enjoyed these small pieces the most. There were a dozen of strips of three images, and within the sets as well as between the sets there was an interesting feeling of some vague narrative going on as well as a nice sense of scanning various Southern California panoramas.

183rd Annual at the National Academy Museum

This is a large show that the National Academy Museum does every two years where a committee of the Academy selects artists (over 125 this time) "to preview new artistic directions in contemporary American art." This mostly painting show is excellent and features a range of artists from the emerging to the established including Elizabeth Cooper, Leah Montalto, Julie Hefferman, Ron Milewicz, Steve Novick, Laura Battle, Melissa Meyer, Dannielle Tegeder and Ken Weathersby (no photography permitted in the exhibition, so I've provided links to examples of the artists' work).

Berend Strik

Here's a couple of images from a show (closed June 21) of Berend Strik at Tilton Gallery (8 E76th Street). These are large photographs (on the order of five foot across) that the artist has embroidered and layered fabric on.
Berend Strik image
Berend Strik image 2
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McDermott and McGough

I never followed David McDermott and Patrick McGough's whole deal with the Victorian era, but I did like their recent show at Cheim and Reid (547 W24th Street) where the duo has moved on to paintings juxtaposing movie stills of 60's female film icons. There was also a room covered in mirrors postioned in different angles offering a take on fractured identity.
mirrored room by McDermott and McGough
painting by McDermott and McGough painting by McDermott and McGough
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Katy Moran

Here is a painter, Katy Moran, new to me, in a show at Andrea Rosen. The small, very painterly abstractions were a surprise to find at this gallery. She starts with found images. It probaby goes without remarking that the paint handling is completely lucious. Somehow this one put me in the mind of Fragonard.
small painting by Katy Moran
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