money problems are the best problems to have, because when you get some money it goes away. It would be worse if I felt that the work we’re doing was irrelevant.
—Lia Gangitano, founder of alternative art space Participant Inc., as quoted by Andria K. Scott, “Consider the Alternative,” New Yorker, Feburary 16, 2015
Given my underwhelming art show attendance record in NYC, I took a quick jaunt through galleries in Chelsea today, followed by a pilgrimage to the East side for an LES space. I’ve linked to gallery photos when available, to spare you and the artists from my low-res snapshots.
Doug Wheeler at David Zwirner
This light-and-space artists’ major installation is this month’s must-see show, but I couldn’t see it.
Last weekend, I tried to get in line one hour before closing time, but was told to come back another day.
Today, the wait time was estimated to be about 90 minutes, with a growing line outside, and a longer line inside. Unlike Disneyland, there weren’t signs estimating the wait time; I came by this information covertly, and I promptly gave up.
The gallery ought consider extending the show as well as opening hours.
Terry Winters (borrowing from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) at Matthew Marks
Big abstract paintings in the big space, small transparency-and-Xerox collages in the smaller storefront. The collages were fun and psychedelic with rainbow-colored data visualizations.
What made me stop was recognizing a chart borrowed from psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, whose research on flow and creativity has inspired many of my Positive Signs drawings. Winters appropriated a X-Y graph on how challenges and skill can lead to apathy or flow. He overlaid it on a paint chip page. Worked for me.
Photo at matthewmarks.com.
Klaus Weber at Andrew Kreps
Sun Press looked cool, and would have been really cool if the sculptural contraption was working. Sunlight streamed in the windows and hit a mirror attached to hydraulic pistons on a wooden base. Several yards down a hall, another mirror (actually silver mylar pulled taut on a frame) was meant to catch the reflected light and re-direct it onto glass-plate-mounted transparencies, which would have acted as masks for incredibly slow, one-at-a-time, sun-bleached reproductions. Architecture and astronomy conspired against Weber, however, throwing the solar rays inertly on a wall.
The rest of the show was very good, however. A wall of death masks had two subtle surprises—humorously, a cartoonish character, and unnervingly, an empty spot with lone, expectant nail. I also liked some large, black-on-black screenprints made with honey, more for the food materials, á la Ed Ruscha. In an anatomical model, real produce filled in for organs, updating Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s veggie portraits, plus real-time decay. The brain, so inscrutable, is a cauliflower. As in my fridge, the cucumber, which stands in for the esophagus, mutinies first, shrinking as if in anaphylactic shock.
The gallery site hasn’t got any photos yet, so enjoy my grainy mobile phone photo.
John Miller at Metro Pictures
Puzzling theatrical sets made with b/w vinyl murals, fake trees and rocks, and sparkly automotive-painted file cabinets.
Photos at MetroPicturesGallery.com.
The carpet that spells “NO” reminded my of Amanda Curreri’s Leveller. Similar materials, very different intentions and effects.
Tom Friedman at Luhring Augustine
Really superb show by the master conceptualist-craftsman. Friedman’s sculptures and wall-works seem epitomize idiosyncrasy. There is hyper-realism, psychedelia, minimal text works, and miniatures; all result from a persistent attraction to labor. Friedman is a artistic daredevil, unafraid of the impossible.
Thankfully, full photo documentation is at LuhringAugustine.com.
Over and over, I thought of other artists who might appreciate this show, whose works resonates with specific projects. For example, I thought Steven Barich, who has made tiny pixel graphite drawings, might appreciate this pixellated acrylic painting. Anthony Ryan, who was painstakingly inlaying and weaving paper the last time I visited his studio, might enjoy this interpolated paper collage. This wrinkled photo of itself was not unlike Zachary Royer Schultz’ Crumple projects. And for yours truly, who has been dreaming about a kite project, there was this tiny figure, and his far, faraway kite (not pictured, and actually, it’s so tiny it’s barely visible in person).
AIGA’s 50 Books/50 Covers 2010 Competition
[Full disclosure: my husband contributed to the interactive components of this exhibition.]
Graphic design aficionados who find themselves ogling covers rather than shopping for books in bookstores, this is the exhibition for you. Come and ogle away.
Graphic designers, beware: visiting this exhibition will only whet your appetite for expensive and unusual printing and bindery—gloss varnishes, rich textiles, and extraordinary boxes. Come anyway; this is the best way to see them, better than the mind-numbing sameness of printed catalogs.
Too many covers were stunners, but I especially loved the covers for Frank Rose’s The Art of Immersion and the book series, Themes of Psychoanalysis, elegantly illustrated with only one or two letters, symbols, or ornaments. The affect and emotion book, for example, bears a mirrored ampersand, which looks like two figures in intimate exchange.
Info and installation photos at AIGA.org.
Jeffrey Gibson at Participant, Inc.
[At one time, Jeffrey was a studio neighbor in Oakland, CA.]
Jeffrey, who is Native American, populates Participant’s not-insubstantial space with sculptures using rugs, beadwork, masks, leatherwork, and drums. As soon as I saw these tchotchkes, painted to look like art, I thought of another LES installation/performance wherein white artists appropriated Native American culture to articulate nature-inspired mysticism. Americans in general are guilty of participating in this ongoing cultural imperialism; it’s just that the conscious acts seem so overt, privileged, and repellant. I wondered what Jeffrey would have made of them.
A series of circular drums are painted with hard-edged geometric shapes and stripes, with some whisks of aerosol. These seem to most clearly convey the show’s inspiration, a 1940s exhibit of Native American art situated in modern art history. Other works, like the pink fluorescent tube shooting out of a hide satchel adorned with two beaded balls, queer up the theme. A b/w video displays time-lapse photos of the drum-paintings in progress. Moving blankets, heavy with paint and Native ornamentation, ground floor works and, as a flag, worry a hardwood dowel.
More info at ParticipantInc.org.