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  • 5.0 star rating
    4 check-ins First to Review

    I walked into this gallery and "Wonderwall" by Oasis was playing from two big speakers, followed by "Time to Pretend" by MGMT--two of my favorite dude jams! The gallery director told me that it was a Smashing Pumpkins station on Pandora, and it was all part of the exhibition by Tyler Dobson. Each of the speakers faced a tapestry stretched on a rectangular frame, each of which depicted loose piles of printed photos. The photo piles had been photographed and then sent to a weave-on-demand tapestry service, which made the images look pixelated in thread, scraps of a pre-digital '90s past preserved in a cheap textile. ("Put it on a mug, it will last longer" would be a good slogan for those various Zazzle services that turn your jpegs into things.) Tucked in the corner was a photo of a teen boy, shirtless, smoking a joint. Apparently there are sites where guys upload their shirtless weed selfies, just thousands of photos in the same pose. This is a recent phenomenon but because the photo is printed out and has a slightly yellowish tinge (maybe a filter?), and the kid has longish stoner hair, the image looks like it could be twenty, thirty years old (except for the iPhone he's holding). The Smashing Pumpkins Pandora station, with its kind-of-edgy-but-not-really songs from all over the 1990s and 2000s, is another reminder that all these soft forms of rebellion are suspended in time, part of the repeating cycle of teens. There were dead leaves strewn all over the floor, a gesture about the passage of time and youth that was so obvious I almost rolled my eyes, but the brown-gray color looked so good with the autumnal shades of the tapestries I gave the artist a pass.

    47 Canal is a fairly young gallery, having opened in the spring of 2011. They had a really exciting first season. But this past fall the quality seemed to lag a little as they tried to bring in artists who they hadn't worked with before, and it made me a little worried. Tyler Dobson is an artist I hadn't seen showing there before, and I really liked his worked, so I left the gallery feeling optimistic. Can't wait to see what they do next!

  • 4.0 star rating
    1 check-in

    I've never been to Egypt but I can imagine how the mystery of seeing the Sphinx rising from the desert is somewhat mitigated by all the trappings of the tourism industry around it--tour guides, the lines, souvenir stands, finding bottle water, etc. Postcards and pictures make it look like an Ozymandias experience of encountering ancient history amid the sands but I'm sure the real experience is more tightly managed. That's how it is with the mammy sphinx at the Domino Sugar Factory, "A Subtlety" by Kara Walker, where you wait in a long line (fast-moving, but took me about 45 minutes to go three blocks on a Friday afternoon) and then sign release forms absolving the organizers of any guilt should you inhale an asbestos and then go inside, where there are guides observing you and you're surrounded by tourists, people posing and snapping the object, which is so huge and mysterious albeit somewhat detracted by all the hullaballoo I've just described. I've read a lot of articles about how, although this work deals with the legacy of slavery and racism, most of the people who go to it are white and they take goofy pictures pointing at the sphinx's ass and so on, but when I was there were a lot of people of color and though everyone was taking photos of the sculpture they seemed to me to be posing solemnly, not silly--I remember one man who dropped to a half squat and pointed a sober, thoughtful gaze at his friend's phone, holding it for two or three minutes while his friend staged the perfect shot. So, maybe reports were sensationalized, or maybe I just lucked out to be there on a day when the atmosphere was chill, and people were taking pictures not to make light of it but because that's all people know how to do when confronted with a monumental sublime moment, the enormity of an important piece of art that will later dissolve, the importance of it swells their longing to capture it in an image and tag themselves to that moment to think of it again later. I couldn't resist getting a photo either but it all seemed too big to fit on my iphone so I just got some details of the dirty sugar at the sphinx's feet, the lodes of impurities lodged in her sugary flesh like dirt in shoveled snow.

  • 49 Geary Street
    San Francisco, CA 94108
    4.0 star rating

    I saw a show by Devin Leonardi here. The paintings (gallery statement called them "exquisite"--maybe a tad presumptuous?) depicted quiet scenes--minor landscapes, views from porches and windows. I liked the way that Leonardi turned leaves and branches into monochromatic negative space, without shading, to give these intimate paintings the flatness of impersonal graphic design. There was a relatively small number of paintings spread out in a fairly large gallery, giving each work a lot of breathing rom. I would call the overall effect precious (in the best possible sense) but probably not exquisite.

  • 2308 44th Dr
    Long Island City, NY 11101
    1.0 star rating

    A rubbery, tepid and overspiced chicken cutlet, a sad stripe of orange cheese half-melted on (that they apparently added another dollar to the price for), two handfuls of hot jalapenos (when I asked for hot peppers I thought I'd give the yellow banana peppers?), a mouthful of chewy white bread--everything about the chicken sandwich there I got was gross. It was supposedly a hot sandwich but there was nothing hot about it. Shouldn't that mean they throw it in the oven for two minutes to get the bread crisp? Anyway I threw it out after one bite, what a waste of $6.50. It was full of people sitting at the tables, who either know something I don't about this place or know jack about sandwich.

  • 4.0 star rating
    First to Review

    Franklin Evans' show here is called paintingassupermodel which could mean painting gets photographed, looked at, admired, airburshed, photoshopped, has its pores removed and so on. But painting here is still a mess: thick, complex, riddled with rough textures, covered with masking tape and confused with print. When it's photographed it's distorted, stretched into wallpaper, blown up too big so the pixels show, or the editing tools otherwise show in ways that aren't pretty. But maybe I'll never understand what Franklin Evans was thinking when he chose this title for this epic installation and that's ok, the title doesn't really matter anyway. What I liked about it was how it shook up perceptions of two-dimensional space,  creating a variety of ways of looking at and relating to images on a wall, by mixing prints and collage and painting, inverting one through the other and mashing them all up. It's a fun journey through the artist's process of looking at paintings and making them, with some references to data and web pages and excel spreadsheets in the form of wallpaper that reminds you of computers and offices and networks and markets, the numerical atmosphere that art is made in and exhibitions are organized in, but not in a way that's boringly archival or demands calculating examination on the viewer's part. As I approached the desk to check out the press release a man behind it, barrel-chested in a pink oxford shirt, said "hey how's it going" in a gruff but amicable way that made me feel welcomed.

  • 5.0 star rating
    3 check-ins

    Great gallery. I recently learned that on Saturdays, members of the gallery's staff (and even Andrea Rosen herself) stand in the gallery and talk to visitors about the work. It's very generous--I got a full tour of a fascinating show, "Counter Forms," with works by Tetsumi Kudo, Alina Szapocznikow, Paul Thek and Hannah Wilke, all of whom worked in different parts of them world, died youngish and were forgotten in the 90s but making a comeback now. And they deserve it: weird materials and biomorphic forms, industrail waste and synthetic pigments, intriguing use of slightly sickening colors and textures--a fertile mix of mad-science lab and contemplative poetry that seems to speak to the ways in which artists are dealing with the relationship between bodies and technologies now.

    Usually Andrea Rosen has a few shows up at once - a big one in the front, medium in the middle, and a selection of works by different artists in the showroom in the far rear, which means you're guaranteed to find SOMEthing to like on any given visit. For 'Counter Forms," however, the whole gallery was devoted to this single group exhibition. But it's definitely worth it! so much to see.
    There is also a small appendix across the street. I feel like the narrowness of this space makes it slightly awkward. It's smaller than any of the spaces across the street, even the little showroom in the back. I haven't felt really impressed or moved by a show here yet but, it's new so maybe they'll get the hang of it (no pun intended!).

  • 2.0 star rating
    First to Review

    I came to Andrew Kreps with great expectations as a fan of Darren Bader's work but this show--or three shows, he says it is--left me sighing with a tinge of melancholy. Bader is a sculptor, I would say, and what I've liked about his work in the past was the feeling of an organic synthesis  forging a deeply resonant and closeknit connections among disparate objects, while employing unexpected materials such as animals, living plants, dead vegetables among images and products and the other usual elements of sculpture today. It's a really thrilling sculpture that electrified the space around it, making all the environment alive and me excited to be in it. Or it was.. now, in this show at Andrew Kreps, the materials are atomized, disconnected, and the space of the gallery is just ordinary gallery white space that's there to separate objects and set them apart from my life and life outside. The walls, floor, and air were there between things to isolate them from each other, and isolate me from them.

    It was a show of photographs and objects--photos on the wall, objects on the floor. (Already a significant separation, a categorization keeping everything apart in its own conceptual cubbyhole.) For the most part the photographs don't have a lot going on in them, or at least not anything that really caught my interest. They look like fashion shots or ads or stills from movies I wouldn't want to watch in full. And they are framed in black on white walls, very isolatory. The objects, as I said, are all on the floor, some of them are plain like a can of beans whereas a limited number are big and crazy--a panel printed with a weird text about celebrities along with collaged images, which appeared to be a full-fledged work of art in its own right, and a big plexiglass box with black rubber gloves reaching inward, perhaps a kinky torture chamber of some sort? These were interesting to look at but looking at them only reminded me of the plainness of all the rest of the objects, how little there was to link any of them together, just this analytical picking and choosing that just repeats what any gallery in Chelsea does instead of transforming it and making it a worthwhile space to be in.

  • 4.0 star rating
    First to Review

    My favorite thing in the Jonas Wood exhibition that's currently on view at Anton Kern is a gray dog at the bottom of a big painting--a schnauzer? not good with breeds here--that looked so funnily uneven and odd, not only because its head was cocked to one side, its eyes looking directly out of the painting at the viewer in that inquisitive, expectant way that dogs do--but also the way its face was painted was split in half, making its expression not just searching but also insane. Some dogs really have expressions like that! The split in the face was mainly caused by the way Wood paints--making strips of paint with ragged edges, as if he's dragging the brush downward in a very tense zig-zag, leaving these skinny tight tiretracks of paint. The dog is made of these stripes. In Wood's paintings lots of different things--animals, furniture, whatever--are made of these strips. But not everything is, so there is a variety of texture to his surfaces that I find appealing, and it nudges against the repetitive pleasure of the stripe patterns.

    Jonas Wood's paintings are mostly interiors, and when they're not they are the kind of paintings you'd expect to find in a normal home--a portrait of a pretty peacock, some flowers, a portrait of a couple--and he underscores the fact that he's making "paintings of paintings" by cleverly inserting them in his interiors. So in the one with the dog at the bottom, you can see the peacock painting (which hangs separately in the same gallery) IN that painting. There's a painting of a poker tournament, the one thing in the show that might be thought of as happening in a public space, but you can tell from lettering on it that it's a painting of a TV screen, so again the perspective is domestic. And the television studio where the poker game is being played is made up of the same stripes that the dog is.

    I wouldn't say Jonas Wood is a mind-blowing painter but I certainly enjoyed myself looking at his work.

  • 291 Church St
    New York, NY 10013
    2.0 star rating
    First to Review

    apexart is the only non-profit exhibition space in New York that doesn't let visitors use the restroom. Artists Space, White Columns, Art in General, the museums--they all have places where people can relieve themselves. But not apexart! If you ask at the desk they will send you across the street to the Tribeca Grand hotel. (Does the hotel know about this, I wonder?) So their behavior in that respect is more like a commercial gallery, which tends to be very guarded about its private spaces. All over New York people's bodily needs only are recognized when those people are paying customers--"restroom for customers only," except for like, White Columns and Starbucks. Apexart is weird because there's no way to be a paying customer (they don't sell anything) but they don't want to imagine their viewers as having bodies either. If you have a digestive system, go to the Tribeca Grand!!

    So that's a general commentary about the space and its attitude toward visitors, but what's funny about it is that the last show I saw here was called "Private Matters," an exhibition that purported to explore issues of privacy in contemporary life. But all of the works in it were about public space, and how information circulates in them. An installation by Stephanie Syjuco was tiled with sheets of paper featuring the names of books and essays of leftist thought and art criticism with scissored fringes of urls that you can tear off, like on the DIY ads found on bulliten boards and bus stops, so you could take them from titles of books that interested you to look them up later when you get home. (I tore off a bunch but then forgot to download the pdfs and then I think I lost them, oops.) Then there was a big installation of T-shirts with emails printed on them, all about activists trying to protest at EU buildings with slogans on T-shirts but being removed because of some EU laws about protests, and the emails had the ensuing discussions about what was allowed under free speech protections. It was boring to look at, also like the PDF url installation it had nothing to do with privacy! Isn't privacy all the things that have been kept out of public--secrets of bodies, faiths, personal problems, etc.? It's not about copyright and free speech, which are part of the public sphere. But if figures that apexart, for the reasons discussed in the first paragraph, would be totally clueless about this. The only work included that had something to do with private life was a vitrine of garbage collected by Kathleen Hanna (!!) and someone else. This junk that was discarded on the street, while it had a past connection to inner or indoor existence, had already been ejected outside, however, and anything concerning the people who had touched it was gone.

  • 4.0 star rating
    1 check-in
    Listed in Culture Vultures

    There's no exhibition quite like an empty gallery.. and man is the gallery at Artists Space EMPTY. Not only is there no art in the space, they also got rid of the front desk, the little bookstore, the open office space, and even the people who work there. The plus to this is that there's easy access to the restrooms. I think they're generally available to public use if you ask but as long as the current show is up, you can just make a beeline for the john (it's the two white doors in the northeast corner), no questions asked.

    Technically it wasn't totally empty--there were some machines that looked the ones that measure humidity in museums, and in one corner there was a copper tube embedded in glass, also suggestive of some kind of measuring device, measuring what I don't know. I identified one guy in the gallery as a gallery attedant because he was there when I arrived and was still there when I got out of the bathroom, and I tried to ask him some questions, but he shrugged and said he had no idea what the objects/machines were, and there were no statements or informational materials. he said "it's a show of aaron flint jamison" and I was like "yeah yeah" because I'd read that in the lobby.  

    Also in retrospect I wonder if the gallery had been painted a light shade of gray because something about it (other than the absence of everythign) made it seem different from other times I've been there--but probably my brain is just inventing thing from trying too hard to perceive something.

    I'm giving Artists Space four stars because I've enjoyed some exhibitions there in the past and overall it's a good program. The current exhibit I don't know what to do with.

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February 2012

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