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  • 3.0 star rating
    3 check-ins

    One of new York's top galleries. I always like going here. I'd give them five stars but I really did not appreciate their latest show, of new sculptures by Jeff Koons.
    It was very fancy birdbaths--all white plaster casts, each with a mirrored blue orb perched somewhere on it. The suite of sculptures mixed a range of visual references, from a copy of a famous old Hercules statue to a rather plain birdbath to the kind of inflatable snowman you'd see on a front lawn around Christmastime. Koons likes to even everything out--good taste or bad taste, it all ends up as lawn decorations.

    It's the expense that matters. Money is what makes all these things (from various socioeconomic contexts) essentially the same, it's money that gave them the same color and texture. The more money there is, the less difference. The more money you have the less there is that's unavailable to you. Koons's work is about this, and about how it works for him as an artist--how there's no material that can resist his vision because he can do anything with his touch. Like the delicate crinkles along the seams of the inflatable snowman--these are miraculously still visible, but hardened, permanent, and dead when cast in plaster. And the orbs twist the reflection of the people who look into them, everyone becomes a warped bluish shadow. In the twenty-first century the distinction between high and low culture doesn't matter anymore--and why should it?--but Koons keeps shoving it in your face, he likes to remind you that it used to be there, until money made it go away. He likes to remind us of the meaninglessness or arbitrariness of taste. Taste is one of the five senses. Taste is a bodily response, and it's personal--it's each of us gives one or three or five stars in a review. But Koons hoards all the tastes for himself here, as the object of his vision, suffocating taste to death and shutting it away from the rest of us behind the immaculate, unimpeachable finish of his work.

    Kitsch and desire and beauty and bad taste are all important subjects for art--but if you want to see an artist do them well you can just check out any of the three Paul McCarthy who has three shows up right now, in which he outdoes Jeff Koons in all of them. In his work there's life and it resists his vision, it resists the material, and that difference is where he finds art.

  • Lorimer Street L Train Station
    Williamsburg, NY 11211
    4.0 star rating
    First to Review

    Definitely worth a peek if you've got some time to kill between your transfer from the G to L or vice versa, or at either end of your journey! It sells artists' books, zines, and other paper matter by independent publishers (some DVDs and CDs too). They are organized by publisher rather than thematically so you just have to release your inner browser, dive into a box and see what catches your eye. I picked up an old book of essays on video art and television from 1985, for $12, and a book of "Cell Phone Poems" which was a stack of thick manila sheets cut the size and shape of an iPad mini, or one of those big Samsung tablet phones, and printed with some washed out images and brief poems, held together with a big brass fastener (and a half dozen staples holding its legs down for good measure). The poetry didn't seem amazing but I liked it as an object and at $5 it was hard to pass up. A lot of the other handmade-looking things were in the high end of the single-digits so this thing seemed like a steal by comparison! The people who stop in here look like zine experts (when I went in there was a guy having a long conversation with the clerks, wearing marijuana-leaf printed socks and a snapback) but I think anyone can find something here to their taste if they give a try.

  • 83-22 37th Ave
    Jackson Heights, NY 11372
    4.0 star rating

    The name says it all. The best $4 margaritas you ever had

    We also got some snacks. I would not recommend this. At $7.95 for one avocados' worth the guacamole was way overpriced and not nearly enough quantity for the huge pile of chips they put on the plate. The chicken quesadilla (also $7.95, for six little wedges) was similar in quality to Applebee's. Just stick to the margs and you'll be good

  • 5.0 star rating
    9/29/2013 Updated review
    4 check-ins
    Listed in Culture Vultures

    I was walking down 23rd street thinking about how it's too bad Paula Cooper closed her little space near the corner of 23rd and 10th Ave, because so many galleries are expanding these days, it's a shame Paula Cooper scaled back because it really is the best gallery in Chelsea--and then just an hour later, I was walking up 10th Ave and noticed a new gallery I hadn't seen before, and it's Paula Cooper space that just opened two weeks ago! I didn't even know when I walked in--I just saw on the window that they were showing Alan Shields, whose work I had just read about that morning, without knowing there was a show of it in Chelsea. Serendipity upon serendipity! The show is really amazing--it is some kind of totemic, shamanistic free-spirited assemblages, the best "hippie art" I've ever seen. (Coming to it straight from the Anne Truitt show at Matthew Marks makes poor Anne look so pathetically boring.) One piece I really loved was a huge tapestry, with a fabric that looked like it had been tie-dyed in a rusty blood red, and the color richly saturated the textile and made illusionary folds and fissures all over it--it looked like skin from the inside. Beads and strings were strung across it, in bright and pastel colors and some pieces with a metallic sheen that seemed like a weird combo with this rich crimson cloth but that just makes the throbbing of the surface more magical.

    I read on the web site that this space will be open through January 2014--so catch it while you can!

    5.0 star rating
    5/15/2012 Previous review
    At the moment Paula Cooper has an exhibition up by Sherrie Levine, who I think is just fantastic. A… Read more
  • 4.0 star rating

    "Museum" is not really the right word for this place, as it has no permanent collection. It shows works by living artists and sells them. So it's a gallery that is subsidized by the city, as a way of supporting the local arts community. That's fine. Just not what I was expecting when I first entered this "museum." Most of the works deal with some Rhode Island-y themes: lots of beaches, views of Narragansett Bay, landscapes, etc. with various "modern" twists to them, as well as some crafts (i.e. jewelry). That's fine, too--but for me, ordinarily what catches my attention is edgier/more conceptual stuff. I did get bewitched, though, by a quilted piece by Michele Leavitt, a bay scene created from ragged, irregular scraps of fabric, with the bits of thread that hold them together hanging from the surface and adding to the already wild texture. So many different, vibrant hues of blue! I didn't pay much attention to the boat-shaped sculptures, assembled from big, found pieces of wood and metal, the maker of which--I learned from the museum's binder--taught engineering at the University of Rhode Island and started making art a couple of years ago, after his retirement. I was with my father--an engineer like the artist, and someone who doesn't usually look at art--and though I didn't pay much attention to the boats my dad said he really appreciated the craftsmanship that went into them. He actually lives in Warwick, so the museum is there for him, and that's a good thing.

  • 2.0 star rating
    2 check-ins First to Review

    The hard thing about making art is coming up with an image that will impact people in a meaningful way. It's easy to think of an image that means something to you--but how do you communicate that feeling to hundreds or thousands of strangers? Pop art made things a lot easier: use an image that already means something to a lot of people, and change it to make it your own . I think pop art works best when a popular, mass-culture image is changed in a way that communicates a very individual, personal relationship to it--and it's a personal relationship that a lot of other people can relate to.

    Bad pop art is almost too easy. Take a popular image and change it in an obvious way--make it something it wasn't, make it the opposite of itself (i.e., the cute and familiar becomes strange and scary). Make it really big, in an expensive and monumental material. This is what was happening at the KAWS show at Mary Boone was about. A few huge wooden statues, of a Mickey Mouse-type figure, with a head that had been modified to look uncanny: no eyes, split ears, standing in poses of shame and disappointment. I didn't like it at all. But it's certainly popular. I visited on a Saturday and the gallery was swarming with people, all of them admiring this giant junk. I felt like I was in a scene from that Banksy movie, "Exit Through the Gift Shop." What do they like about it so much, I wondered? Maybe for some people it's just cool to see an easy way to make an art. they know it encourages their fantasy that they too could be an artist, if they just put in some effort and money. Maybe what they admire is the will the artist has to make art work for himself.

  • 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.

  • 8687 Melrose Ave
    West Hollywood, CA 90069
    3.0 star rating

    The MOCA building is squat and yellowish--totally unremarkable, but situated in the plastic RGB monstrosity that is the Pacific Design Center it manages to look stately and dignified. Entrance is free, which is nice.

    The exhibition I went to paired Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland, the post-war purveyors of beefcake and phallus fantasy.  The pairing was not particularly imaginative (Mizer hired Tom of Finland to illustrate the covers of his catalogs, and was actually the one who came up with the "Tom of Finland" nom de plume) nor did it tell any revelatory histories, or situate them in art history in an eye-opening way. A wall text in the Mizer gallery suggested that the way he laid out his catalogues, the grids of beefcake photos labeled with letters and numbers, was interesting in relation to the serial production of minimalist and pop art that would come after it--but if the curators really wanted to make that point, shouldn't they have included some of that art? and wasn't that art just responding to standard commercial practices, of which Mizer was just one example? In relation to modern art trends like appropriation and collage, there was a pair of Tom of Findland's "mood boards," with pictures he'd cut out of magazines and newspapers and porn rags, which were visually interesting, especially ones where he had drawn over the photographs to give the men the cartoonishly large buttocks and pecs that characterize his drawings, or the pic of three policemen where he'd drawn huge cocks coming out of their uniform flies. These details were rather small and easy to miss if you weren't paying attention so I wish the curators had done more to draw attention to these moments.

    In terms of the history not of art but of erotica, you don't get the impression that either Mizer or Tom was influencing the other, they were both doing what they were doing at the same time. That, and the predominance of a handful of masculine archetypes--gladiators, sailors, cowboys, bikers, farmboys, mechanics--inscribed some fairly narrow contours for the mid-century homoerotic imagination. I had to wonder what Bob and Tom would make of mpreg, or furries, or World of Warcraft slash drawings with orcs fucking elves, or whatever else is polluting Tumblr and DeviantArt these days. You've come a long way, baby!  

    I should note that Mizer's imagery came off as slightly more diverse than Tom's, with some skinnier/less worked out bodies, and a couple of odd additions to the aforementioned Pantheon of Masculinity--there were a couple of guys dressed a wizards in capes, thongs, and pointy hats, waving their wands at walls of runes or holding skull-capped staves. I thought those were really funny. I also liked a sequence titled "The Doctor and The Demon"--one guy with a stethoscope was examining another guy with little horns glued to his temples. Hmm.

    Overall it was a fun, light (and, arousing :3) exhibit. But there was an incident that spoiled my impression of MOCA. I was meeting a friend who was running late, and as I lingered there was a shift change for the security guards. The new one was holding a ruler. As she paced the galleries she'd tap it against the walls. FWAP-FWAP-FWAP-FWAP-FWAP. She'd bang it on the metal bars of the stairway's banister. CLANG-CLANG-CLANG-CLANG-CLANG-CLANG-CLANG. She would even (and this was what really FLOORED ME) bang it on the display cases that were holding Mizer's photos. DING-DING-DING-DING-DING. What a Racket!! I tried to just ignore her but at one point my friend shot her a Look of Death. You won't believe how she responded...

    "Am I bothering you?"



    Obviously there was no conceivable way to respond to this outrageous impudence.

    If anyone at the Pacific Design Center is reading this, please Officially Reprimand her noisy rude ass. And confiscate the goddamn ruler


  • 4.0 star rating

    The big advantage that LA museums have over New York Museums in terms of architecture is the weather, which makes it possible to have all the gorgeous outdoor spaces--the courtyards, the gardens, the promenades--featured at the Getty, the Hammer, and of course, at LACMA as well. These really improve the museum-going experience, in my opinion. (But weather alone doesn't excuse all the terrible designs of NYC museums... get it together, New York!)

    So that was one thing I really liked about LACMA. Another part of it is the variety of buildings on the campus, and of the approaches to installation found inside them. I loved the 1980s feel of the Japan building, with its ponderous gold-and-black elevator and the bonsai angles of the vitrines and the pale greenish tinge of the light in it, which complemented the objects on display therein, ranging from chunky medieval vases to delicate miniatures and inked assemblages on paper from the late 20th century. Other noteworthy displays are the pre-Columbian artifacts, where the walls are undulating stacks of thin wooden slats, and short curtains bordering the tops of the walls work with the colors of the vitrines' interiors to modulate a rainbow as you pass through the galleries, and also the South Pacific galleries, where the graceful curves of the wooden totems and tools are replicated in the benches and the arcs in which the objects themselves are positioned.

    So yeah. I like the separation of the buildings and the variety that goes with them, but LACMA needs a ticketing system to go with it! They give you a paper ticket which you have to show every time you enter one of the galleries on the campus, which is a hassle, and what if you lose it? I got really annoyed when I went to the fourth floor of the American building and the security guard demanded to see my ticket. Look buddy, I showed it when I entered on the plaza level!! How did he think I got in?? I don't like a museum to make me feel like I'm in a police state where I constantly have to affirm my right to be there. This could be easily solved if they just gave people stickers to wear, like at some other museums. Please look into it LACMA.

    Also I'm sorry but the Broad contemporary building at LACMA is really bad. Just a stack of huge galleries showing huge installations that have nothing to do with each other. Because of the galleries' size there are lots of stairs between each level, and the gigantic elevator is incredibly slow, so I feel like I spent more time moving among floors than I did looking at the art (exaggeration, but still). And I thought about the construction site for another Broad museum downtown, where the ads named a litany of the most famous artists: Damien Hirst! Takashi Murakami! Jeff Koons! YAWN!! How many Broad Museums does a city need??!? I think LA would be fine with none.

  • 2.0 star rating

    I went to the Raqib Shaw show.


    This is... some of THE tackiest shit I have ever seen in Chelsea.

    Where to begin?

    How about the butts. There is a fake cherry-blossom crawling with nude guys, well not exactly nude--their packages are tastefully (not) covered by these little brown thongs that frame their butts. And they all have animal faces, with maws open in squawks or yowlings.

    The weird thing about this is that it is obviously going to sell for a lot of money and it took a lot of work by a whole studio of people, and some fabricators, and yet it's not even that good. It's not polished and doesn't wow me with craftsmanship. It reminds me of a diorama of cavemen I saw at a museum of natural history in Azerbaijan (not lying), with a bunch of blotchy pink half-naked guys chasing after some mammals. At Pace, as in Azerbaijan, the figures' skin is a crayola-peach hue, their butts have a grim dull glow. Is this supposed to be sexy?

    In another room a mural covers a whole wall. Same garbage as in the other room but now it's flat and bedazzled--another sex-battle of bird head men. Again, this totemic animal imagery is probably supposed to come off as referential to myth and a cosmos of ancient archetypes. And yet, it just ends up being gross. The city walls that make the backdrop for the inaction sparkle with rhinestone and a palette straight out of a Thomas Kinkade store, or maybe a Hot Topic. Either way it belongs in a mall. Boo

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Review votes:
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Yelping Since

February 2012

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