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  • 5.0 star rating
    3 check-ins

    Very cool gallery! There's a great slogan painted on the facade: "the whole world + the work = the whole world." I know this sounds corny, but every time I see it I feel inspired.

    Last time I went the inside also had words on the walls--not painted on but put there by a projector for an installation by Frances Stark. The work was based on her internet chats with Italian men. As far as I could tell the text was a transcription of video chats where Italians were showing her their dicks and vice versa. But the words made it into the art, and I was glad that Gavin Brown's Enterprise put big couches in the middle of the gallery so I could get cozy for 30+ minutes of reading.

    Frances Stark made this work for an important exhibition in Venice last summer and the guys she chats with--as I mentioned before--are Italian, like the people in Venice. The projections are timed to the rhythm of music from a Mozart opera, which has lyrics in Italian, even though Mozart spoke German. But the lyrics are gone, just like the images of these Italian guys who were typing to Frances Stark in English. All these removals and reminders of geographical distance really made me think about the distance between an artist and her audience, because in most cases the artist "isn't in the picture," so to speak, when the audience encounters the work. But, at the same time, the audience wants the artist to expose a private side of herself so they can have a vicarious experience of the genuine emotional connection that's missing from their everyday lives. That expectation for art is basically the same impulse that sends people to sites that promise spontaneous and exciting random encounters, like Chatroulette, even though (or maybe because?) all these sites have to offer is a bunch of dicks. There's something like a "lost in translation" problem there when you can't match your desires up with the desires of the guy who wants you to look at his dick. Same thing with the artist's anxiety over whether what she wants to show is what people want to see. Or when you tell an Italian guy that stab is a verb and he thinks it's a dick. I'm pretty sure that's what Frances Stark was thinking about when she made this work, given the way she mixes together "I'm gonna chat with guys in Italy" with "I'm gonna show my art in Italy."

    I got a little carried away there but I thought this was super interesting and also somewhat relevant to my point, which is: Gavin Brown's Enterprise is a good place to have an intimate experience with some good art.

  • 5.0 star rating
    First to Review
    Listed in My Firsts!

    Isabella Czarnowska is a fancy gallery in an upscale part of Berlin, among some office buildings and in walking distance of the main tourist attractions. I saw an exhibition there of works by two artists, Paul Thek and Luc Tuymans.  It seemed like a strange pairing because they are from different generations and work in very different mediums (Thek does more sculpture with resin and plastic, Tuymans is a very good painter). But the exhibition helped me see things about each artist's work that I hadn't really seen before--things about surfaces, materials, and bodies that are too complicated to get into here.

  • 5.0 star rating
    1 check-in

    What a wonderful small museum! The name of their show of new acquisitions made me laugh--"Initial Public Offering," a nod to San Jose's status as the capital of Silicon Valley and a tech industry center, but there was nothing funny about the show itself--a remarkable group of works, each one an exciting use of materials and allowed room in the spacious first-floor galleries to have its charms felt from all sides. Two of the most memorable pieces for me were a totemic  figure by Tim Hawkinson, woven from cardboard with enormous mitts and no head, its crinkly stuffed body both forbidding and inviting to touch, and a large photograph by John Chiara, who as I learned drives around in a van that he converts into a camera and does long exposures, so some of the traces of the developing process appear as blurs and imperfections on the surface, which he cuts in irregular shapes. it was a shot of the ocean, dappled and sparkling with sunlight, huge and awkward and gorgeous. I had never heard of Hawkinson or Chiara before (or many of the artists in the collection) but I will keep an eye out for their work in the future! Appreciated the chance the San Jose museum gave me to learn about them.

    The upper floor galleries had an exhibit about food an art--there were some nice pieces here too, and the school group touring there made me realize that the topic was a great one for public engagement and educational opportunities. On that note, a lot of signage encourages people to post to social media about their experiences, and use the San Jose musem's branded hashtags. When I searched for them I didn't find that much activity--so it's like they were trying to hard, and social media discussions are something that happen on their own and feel weird when forced from the top, so my one suggestion would be to tone that down a bit. Otherwise, fantastic museum that any American city would be fortunate to have!

  • 526 W 26th Street
    New York, NY 10001
    5.0 star rating
    1 check-in First to Review

    Found video footage shows up in a lot of art these days, but Trisha Baga adds another dimension to it--literally! One of the pieces in her show at Greene Naftali had Olympic athletes, and fireworks, stadium concerts, and stuff that looked camera-test footage from YouTube spliced together in an order determined by the artist's private network of associations. But because the images were extruded with 3D techniques it felt less introverted and subjective than a lot of the poetic video montage I've seen in the last few years. When the runner lunged toward me in his warm-up stretch and the soundtrack surged it was hard for me not to feel engaged, even though I wasn't really sure of what the image meant. There was also another 3D video, an animation with characters in conversation, and it required a different set of glasses. Signs on the walls noted that the glasses were "specially synced" to each video. There's not a time component to the way the glasses work so "synced" is not the right word, but I understood what they meant and was very impressed by the technical work that went into preparing the videos. More importantly, the different sets of glasses gave the videos a sense of being anchored in space: you really had to move into their zone and stay there for a while with the glasses on in order to appreciate a work. Maybe Baga's next step is virtual reality helmets! (Just kidding... although, who knows?) The whole gallery was darkened, and viewers had to navigate the various glowing sections between and around the two main projections. There were some sculptural video installations to walk through, with projections bouncing off plates or through pieces of broken glass, and weird little assemblages without any digital components just cluttering the floor. These pieces related the digital moving images to everyday objects in a way that suggested a bodily presence for the video without relying on the technological novelties deployed in the 3D works. I doubt they would look that great on their own, with the lights on, but they really added some depth and fullness to the show as a whole.

    I'd say Trisha Baga's show was a four-star experience for me, but thinking back to some of the great exhibits I've seen at Greene Naftali in the last year I have to give the gallery five stars overall. This fall Gelitin put big weird sculptures on pedestals that were rigged so when people pushed levers or buttons on them (as they were invited to do) the sculptures fell off and crashed on the floor. I missed the opening so I didn't get to see the sculptures in their original, untarnished state, just the wreckage several weeks later. So often when messy art gets put in a Chelsea gallery, the installation sanitizes and sterilizes it, putting ugliness and failure on a pedestal for people to ooh and aah at. That always makes me feel a little queasy. Gelitin knocked ugliness and failure off the pedestal--literally!--and when I walked through the gallery I felt like these qualities were all around me, fresh and nasty and alive. Then there was Haegue Yang's show last spring, of her hanging sculptures assembled from Venetian blinds, cameras, and light bulbs. This had a totally different feel than Trisha Baga and Gelitin's lively and funny exhibitions-- it was beautiful, ethereal, serene. As I moved around the sculptures the light skipped down the blinds, and the angles of the camera lenses reminded me of the limits of my perspective. Greene Naftali is on the eighth floor a building, which makes it more of a hassle to get to than Chelsea's sidewalk-level galleries--you have to ride up in an antiquated elevator with an operator and there's usually a bit of a wait. There were times when I thought about going to see an exhibition there but skipped it because I knew it would take so long. But when I looked out the big windows at the city skyline and Hudson River nearing dusk and saw the soft light coming in and filtering through Haegue Yang's sculptures, the high location no longer seemed like a drawback. It can actually be a huge plus.

  • 110 Meserole St.
    Williamsburg, NY 11237
    5.0 star rating
    1 check-in First to Review

    Three-word review: L. O. L.

    I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in a gallery as I did at Joel Holmberg's exhibit here. This is a good thing. The gallery just had seven monitors with video, plainer than a display aisle at BestBuy, but the content on them was something else.

    One of my favorites was "Unattended Macbook Airs in Juice Store, 2013." It's just what the title says it is. Through the storefront window we see a Macbook Air, its screen black from disuse, unattended on a small round table without seating, where one would drink juice standing. The camera zooms in for a closer look--it is indeed a Macbook. A few steps further, past the door, and on the ledge is ANOTHER Macbook, similarly abandoned, black-screened. The camera pans up for a long view of the first computer, from behind, zooming in and then swinging around rapidly for another view back where it started. I think what I found so funny about this video is the voyeuristic quality of peering into windows but without any attention to people, who are usually the object of peeping. (Where are the humans anyway? Drinking juice?) Instead you have the machine eye of the camera scoping other machines. Of course there's a person (Joel Holmberg) behind the camera, but except for the part where he walks past the store door and you glimpse his shoe he's invisible, and the flourish of movement at the end swooping from one window to the next is so fast it seems inhuman. So it's funny to think that machines want to study each other when no one is around. Also, it's crazy that there are two computers just sitting there.

    I could go on and on describing all seven videos in the show but I'd run out of space, so I'll just talk about the piece de resistance, which is a collection of shots of people talking on CNN and the labels that say who they are. Some examples I wrote down: "Pete Wilson: Car Hit By Boulder"  "Deziray Chick: Filmed Owls" "Amy Corey: Banned from McDonalds" "Nilly Mauck: Condo Trashed" The grammar of how they are described doesn't always matched. It's like dangling modifiers. That, plus the stories people are telling, if you listen (it was kind of hard to hear in the gallery--but I was there at the opening when people were talking) are very ordinary and boring, and that gets you thinking about how CNN is trying to create and sort through so much info, how pointing the camera is one way to get people to talk about themselves, and the person back in the studios writing the descriptions is working from the other side to figure out what to do with it. And the descriptions, when seen one after the other, are just so funny. "Cathy Wunschel: Found Pearl" "Marc Rosenthal: Was Lost In Apple Orchard" Like the juice store video, and the rest of the ones in this show, the collage of CNN footage approached the way humans and technology participate in communication from a fresh and fun perspective and I loved it.

  • 3763 76th St
    Jackson Heights, NY 11372
    5.0 star rating

    This might be my favorite restaurant in the world? As other reviewers have noted, the ambience is nothing special, and like them, I am not the kind of guy who cares about that. I like robust flavors, low prices, generous portions, and--because 90% of the time I'm eating out alone--fast service. And Lali Guras has all those things in ample quantity. And they always come out when you're 3/4 done and give you a second helping!! I tend to get the veg thali--thali because it's a curry so you get a well rounded meal on one big plate, and veg because the meat ones are good but the meat chunks tend to be a little bony, so veg is just easier to wolf down, which I appreciate. But all the appetizers and soups are great too.

  • 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!

  • 5.0 star rating
    3 check-ins First to Review
    Listed in My Firsts!

    Recently reopened in a new, bigger location.  When I last went, for a show of work by Allyson Vieira, the front entrance wasn't finished yet so you had to go in through the office. This was actually great because I otherwise might have missed the series of earthy nudes on paper and set in mirror-backed frames, which were hanging in the office instead of the gallery. They were great. And just a teaser for a show full of cool surprises. Allyson Vieira's work is all about archaealogy and primordial architectural forms, and she evokes these themes with layers of contemporary construction materials such as plaster and drywall and concrete. It's monumental but also strangely slight. A lot of her pillars, arches, and cornices were white and blended in with the wall, so I'd be looking at one sculpture in the middle of the gallery and then turn around be like, whoa! more art, right here against the wall behind me the whole time! It's like a fragment of an imaginary building haunting a real building. There were some funhouse mirrors on the floor so the forms of the sculptures, reflected in them, seemed even more ethereal than they were already.

    Laurel Gitlen has a back room so make sure you don't miss it. I can't say what will be there when you visit but at Allyson Vieira's show there was a bronze cast of a squid attacking a winged penis. Epic.

  • 5.0 star rating
    1 check-in

    I saw a delightful little Terry Winters show here last week--all small works, pages torn from textbooks or other informational text materials with colorful charts and diagrams printed on transparencies and laid over the top. Very nice to look it. I hadn't even been planning to come to this show but the gallery is on street level and has all glass on the front wall, which is a great way to welcome visitors.

    This review refers to the gallery at 502 W 22nd St. but I couldn't find a Yelp entry for that location so I'm putting my review here. Matthew Marks has several locations all over Chelsea and I'd say that the quality is pretty consistent among them.

  • 210 Eleventh Ave
    New York, NY 10001
    5.0 star rating
    1 check-in First to Review
    Listed in Culture Vultures

    For the most part the Pablo Helguera exhibition at Kent Fine Art doesn't look like a regular gallery exhibit--but what it does look like is hard to say. Does it look like a bookstore or a personal library or what? The first thing I noticed upon entering was the plain, industrial-looking metal shelves (bookstore) with colorful hand-lettered signs indicating the genre/category of the books on them (cute bookstore) but as I moved through I noticed these nice mid-century modernist chairs, the low (in terms of both height and intensity) lighting of vintage table lamps, and faded black-and-white photos on the wall--all domestic touches pointing to "personal library." Is this supposed to represent a public space or a private one, I wondered, and can I even say it's "representing" either or is it just _being_ them? after all, it seemed like the books were there for reading, maybe for buying (but they were all in Spanish, so not really for me). As I got to the end of the gallery, still thinking about whether this was one thing or the other or both, I was caught totally off-guard by a third element--the way one wall of bookshelves ended and opened onto a gallery that looked more like a standard art show--framed prints hanging on a white wall, lots of empty space illuminated by natural light coming in a window. Here we have Pablo Helguera's lecture on "The Art of the Future"--printed on sturdy cards, arranged on three shelves, interspersed with cards printed with plates from a 1969 book, "Art of the Future," to which the title of Helguera's lecture/work referred. And though it was purportedly about the future, the lecture really talked about the past--Helguera's own childhood and youth, when he encountered the book in translation, "El Arte del Futuro," in his home city in Mexico and learned about contemporary trends in American art--conceptual art, land art, and computer art, and became very excited about it. Eventually the lecture arrives at a rather grim conclusion that we live in a time of no future, when the future doesn't matter, when all artists are concerned with their own work in the present. So, like with the installation of books, here too there was this tension between public and private, an attempt to make a statement about general trends in the public sphere of art that ends up circling back into a reflection on personal experiences, but then is presenting as a lecture (or installation)--a transmission of a private life into public space, via the gallery. (On the opposite wall hung framed prints in a grid, black-and-white photographs of what looked like an archaeological site in Mexico--I think. I tried to read and comprehend the prints a few times but for some reason I quickly felt tired out trying to understand it and kept giving up and still am not sure what was going on there.)

    On the way out I stopped at the front desk to talk to the very friendly receptionist a bit about the show and I noticed there were flyers that could be taken and exchanged for a free book! I headed for the "Artes" section and found one about cybernetics in art from the 60s--I won't read it (or maybe I'll try to find the English original, I'm pretty sure it's a translation) but because of the timing of its publication and its thematics, as well as its handsome modern design, it seemed like a great memento to take away from this intriguing exhibition.

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February 2012

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