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  • 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.

  • 4419 Purves St
    Long Island City, NY 11101
    5.0 star rating

    I'm looking at the other reviews for Sculpture Center and thinking, "Wow! What a great bunch of thoughtful, well-written reviews!" It just goes to show that Sculpture Center is a real magnet for intellectual types. It does exciting things that the bigger institutions in the city can't risk and as such it performs an important function in the New York art world. I don't have much to add to what's already been said here, but I wanted to give Sculpture Center some stars!

  • 2.0 star rating
    First to Review

    Paintings by Tatiana Berg at this gallery looked as if they were painted on a whiteboard--actually on a Japanese paper that's "basically plastic" according to the guy at the reception desk, but the end result was that the surface doesn't really soak in the paint, so the trick of painting them, I would imagine, is to get the paint to lie on the surface and dry there without just rolling of. The strokes therefore look quite forcefully and dramatically applied, yet nevertheless not that interesting, and the images that they're combined to make aren't memorable--some female figures, maybe a still life, I can't say what else. A couple of sculptural paintings were scattered across the floor--these were big buoys of raw canvas with paint applied in broad messy stripes. A pretty obvious way of stressing the strangeness of how the paint relates to the plasticky surface in the works on the wall, and it didn't make it any more compelling for me. I learned from reading the press release that this artist belongs to a "New Casualist" movement... but if you have an -ism, if you have all these blunt tricks, can you truly call yourself "casual"?

    Also I really don't like the name of this gallery. When I saw it on the window I assumed it was the name of Tatiana Berg's exhibition (which is actually called "Bill Murray") and thought it was a bad name for a show. But for a gallery, even worse.

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

    Family Business is a new gallery. I wish I could say it looked promising. When I went in mid-April there were at least a hundred works on display in a tiny space, crammed so tightly that it was hard to look at anything. When I did manage to focus my attention on a single piece it was weak, undergrad-level work.

    There are dozens of places in Chelsea to see decent art in favorable installation conditions. Don't waste your time here.

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

    Art about architecture seems pretty hot right now and Nicelle Beauchene had an exhibition of photographs of buildings by Chris Wiley. The images framed parts of modernist buildings that had become worn down, discolored, covered up with trash. All the images had clear geometric lines of perspective that were disrupted just enough by everyday wear-and-tear. Everything was cool and aloof and depopulated. Overall the show was easy on the eyes but nothing special. Two of the best images were hanging in the office--a bit of an odd choice because a lot of gallery visitors are probably too shy to peek in an office but I guess if that's where the actual clients go you want to impress them.

    On the artist's CV it says that Chris Wiley is an art critic who has published his writing widely. He wrote his own press release and I remember it being more fun to read than the usual press release but it didn't give me a fresh perspective on the work. Still, I think it's a good idea for galleries to have artists write their own press releases--even (or especially) if they aren't critics.

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

    I went to Spinello Projects on opening night of Manny Prieres's exhibition: graphite drawings on black paper of covers of banned books, from the Bible to Salman Rushdie and Daddy's New Roommate. These were small, not-too-expensive works that look good in any minimal apartment and have an air of bookish importance that turns them into easy conversation-starters. The show was obviously calculated to sell by looking slick while capitalizing on cultural conflicts--in very poor taste, if you ask me. It got worse on the second floor, where in addition to the book covers there were slogans drawn in the same technique, including "Work will set you free," from the gates at Auschwitz. Gross. It's a cool space though.

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

    The name of this gallery is so hard for me to remember! I'm always like "McInnes & Nash... Mitchum & Guinness... what's it called?!" So, too many words in the title but other than that this is a solid gallery. Last time I went they had an exhibition of paintings by Keltie Ferris. There was a lot of buzz around this artist but I had never seen her works in person so I was excited to go. I was not disappointed! They are very vivid abstractions, where layers of color and brush stylings play against each other in an electrifying dance. I thought for sure that the bottom layer of these paintings had been printed on with an inkjet, but when I asked a gallery attendant she said, no, the whole thing was painted by the artist by hand.. if I remember correctly, she used a spray nozzle and/or a sponge, which had the effect of muting the movement of her hand. I totally fell for it! Wonderful.

    The space itself is big, airy, and bright, with lots of room to move around and choose your own path for studying the works on display. One of the women at the front desk is always very friendly and eager to answer whatever questions I might have. The other one is not so gregarious. Fair enough. It's not like I'm actually a client who is there to buy something.

  • 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.

  • 4.0 star rating
    1 check-in First to Review

    I've never been a major lover of Donald Judd's work and learning more about it on a tour of the recently opened Judd Foundation (such as, he based many of his sculptures on mathematical formulas) didn't do much to curry him favor with me. I just don't think there should be that much math in art! But nevertheless I really enjoyed touring the space and would recommend it to anyone who can get a reservation (it's by appointment only, and tours are booked far in advance). What's great about it is seeing some of the pieces in Judd's personal art collection, works by his friends who can be found in any big museum of modern art, but here they've been lived with. The art has grown into the house, which makes looking at it a very different experience than a museum. The huge geometric paintings by Frank Stella, an orderly puzzle of angles and curves, where the fruity kitchen colors of the 70s--avocado, oatmeal, lemon, peach--had faded into a lighter, odder palette, or in the bedroom, Dan Flavin's serially off-center array of fluorescent arches, whose red and blue light extended endlessly in the glass dorr on the elevator shaft and yellowed the picture windows with their shine. Curiously, the walk-in closet/dressing room had a caricature by Daumier about the 19th century art salons of Paris, not the kind of thing one would normaly associate with Judd! Also interesting to see the artist's obsession with order domestically applied to his kitchen counters, where all the forks and spoon lay out in a lengthy series.

  • 4.0 star rating
    First to Review

    I went to Joe Sheftel Gallery for the opening of the Alex da Corte exhibition and was surprised by how hushed it was. Usually gallery openings are quite noisy, with people standing around talking, but here for the most part they were looking curiously and quietly at the art. This was largely due to the nature of the work itself: a total installation that filled the gallery, turning it into a mirrored and striped 70s-looking funhouse with various sculptures and other obstacles occupying patches of the floor. This meant it was hard to stand around schmoozing with frenemies, instead people basically just walked, single-file, from the door to the desk and back, in a snaky long S-curve. I wasn't crazy about this show, not because I like noisy openings and having to navigate around people who are just standing in place in order to see the art, but because exhibitions of this artist's work I've seen elsewhere have an openness to them--there are fronts and backs and different sides that create a variety of perspectives, and you can stand in one place (or just shift position slightly) and make connections between a work's various parts and contemplate them without being jostled around and directed BY them. This just felt over-determined. Hence the timid behavior of everyone in it (which is weird, because if it is drawing on funhouse looks shouldn't people at least be having *fun*?). And the installation's heavy palette, with lots of reds and pinks, only exacerbated this oppressive feeling. I would give it three stars but I think Joe Sheftel Gallery deserves an extra one just for experimenting with something so weird.

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February 2012

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