Mar 162023

Eric “ESH” Hornsby, “Living Daylights 1″and “Living Daylights 2”

Adam Christopher Reed, “The Judge”

Nikita Rosalind, “Peace in the Wild Waves”

The Werk Gallery is an exciting new space in St. Pete that hosts monthly exhibitions in one half and the owners’ curated mix of vintage and modern items in the other. The photos above are from Shiny & New, the first gallery’s first show.

Artists from this exhibition pictured above- Adam Christopher Reed, Nikita Rosalind, and Eric “ESH” Hornsby

Currently the gallery is showing Rite of Spring, featuring artists Kenny Jensen, Nathan Beard, Samson Huang, Laura Spencer (Miss Crit), John Gascot, and Leafmore Studios (Becca McCoy and Justin Groom).

The gallery is open Thursday- Sunday from 12-5 pm.

Mar 092023

For Martín Touzón’s exhibition DISSOLUTION, at Kates Ferri Projects in NYC, each work plays a part in the one that comes next. Moving from work on Wet Wipes, to neon, to painting and back again- the more you look at them, the more you can see their connection to each other.

From the press release-

As an artist who normally rejects his previously established rules from one project to the next, he turns the table on this pattern as well, dissolving his own methodologies. Touzón says that “Change comes from noticing a difference in the feeling towards something.” Being an economist-turned-artist, he studies the impact of altering one variable on another. In the process he unconsciously opens a dialogue between arts and economics, relating at some point to the accumulation and fuite, trade, exchange, barter and surplus, production and circulation.

“The unfolding between the series came quite intuitively,” says Touzón. While on board the train to his residency in Turin (the city of Arte Povera) in 2017, he picked up bits of text and shapes from a magazine using acrylic markers and sharpies. He had to work fast so that the image would not be muddled because of the bleed of colors on the wipes. Lacking full control over the final image, the artist then lets them dry inside the same magazine. This technique underlies the paintings on Wet Wipes in the exhibition.

In contrast, the neon sculptures are very intentional. In his collaboration with a sign maker from Buenos Aires, Touzón must communicate quite specifically about how he wants the rings to look–almost misshapen. Translating from a 2D surface now into a 3D object, the artist is also playing with scale. The works on Wet Wipes are immediate and close to the hand, while the neon sculptures take up space and its light brings in the body.

As a next step, Touzón utilizes the neon shapes during the painting process. Laid on the canvases or over paper, they let the paint to diffuse on the wet surface, which in turn allows chance to play a role in the outcome. This gesture mimics the results in the Wet Wipes series, and yet the effect of the neon through paint or light is wholly distinct. Thus, he leads his work on the Escher stairs, seemingly returning to the same place, but ultimately, landing someplace new.

This whole process is an exciting new chapter in Touzón’s work. As an Argentina-based artist, Touzón has first-hand experience of an environment where instability is a constant of everyday life. Reason why his obsession for the careful study of transitions and changes. As the dissolution of society and systems come crumpling at our feet with the pandemic, climate change, and ongoing wars, the art world is also being reshaped by new artists and cultural producers. The holdouts for the old-world order or artistic hierarchies are also disillusioned, finding themselves in a new society that may look similar, but is fundamentally changed. Through his works, Touzón subtly suggests a way of perceiving through the cracks of this new normality and how one’s diluted perception of the world might not be an accurate reflection of others’ reality.

This exhibition closes 3/13/23.



Mar 082023

Chiharu Shiota, “Connected to the Universe”, 2023

Chiharu Shiota, “Connected to the Universe”, 2023 (detail)

Chiharu Shiota, “Connected to the Universe”, 2023, detail

“Connected to the Universe”, 2023

Chiharu Shiota’s gorgeous installations are just one part of her engaging exhibition, Signs of Life, at Templon in NYC. The installations lead to other rooms of smaller sculptures as well as  paintings.

From the press release-

After a foundation degree in painting at Seika University in Kyoto, Chiharu Shiota chose to pursue her artistic studies in Berlin, focusing on performance. Her practice soon shifted towards site-specific installations. She skilfully weaves knotted threads to create fantastical scenes combining salvaged window frames, a piano, suitcases, books and used clothes. Bordering on drawing and sculpture, her fabulous ephemeral, immersive installations have become her signature. Since her impressive installation for the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Bienniale in 2015, she has become one of the key figures on the international art scene and is regularly invited to show her work at museums worldwide.

In a hyper-connected world, Chiharu Shiota’s new exhibition questions the notion of the “web”, a living organism similar to the structures that make up the universe or the neurons our brains are built on. Created on-site over two weeks, a large-scale installation made of red threads symbolizes this permanent connection of information, collective memory and the world’s knowledge which cuts across cultures and continents. At the heart of the work are two arms, her own, placed on the ground. They are cast in bronze, palms facing up to the sky. “I always thought that if death took my body, I wouldn’t exist anymore,” explains the artist. “I’m now convinced that my spirit will continue to exist because there is more to me than a body. My consciousness is connected to everything around me and my art unfolds by way of people’s memory.”

The installation is followed by a series of sculptures. Enfolded at the centre of each one, as though frozen in place by the intertwined threads, are objects from daily life. “I feel that the objects we possess are like a third skin,” she says. “We accumulate these things and transpose our presence and our memory to them.” Often obsolete, weighed down by impenetrable histories, these objects — old suitcases, stained dolls, miniature pieces of furniture and tiny bottles — represent the treasures offered up by memory, to be seen but not touched.

“State of Being (Dress)”, 2022

State of Being (Photos), 2022

State of Being (Photos), 2022 (detail)

This exhibition closes 3/9/23.

Mar 042023

Alex Prager’s photographs, top floor of the gallery

Alex Prager, “Run” film still

Alex Prager, “Run” film still

Alex Prager, “Run” film still

Alex Prager, “Run” film still

It’s hard not to be delighted by Alex Prager’s latest exhibition, Part Two: Run at Lehmann Maupin gallery in NYC. Upon arriving on the lower level of the gallery you are met with a pinball machine, brightly colored photos, and the sculpture of a woman’s body with her head crushed under a giant silver ball. In the next room, the short film Run sucks you in to it’s strange world.

From the press release-

Directly responding to a period of cultural ambivalences and uncertainties, the exhibition urgently examines human perseverance and explores the opportunities for empathy, participation, and action present both within art and everyday life.

Across her practice, Prager crafts rich, often ambiguous narratives that examine the cultural mythologies and archetypes that shape collective existence. As she deploys and deconstructs artistic and narrative conventions, Prager explores how both our senses of self and our engagement with others are often mediated by familiar stories and tropes. Occupying a tenuous relationship to time and place, the artist’s carefully choreographed figures remain suspended between the past and the present, and Prager gestures to a collective will to exist that not only transcends our immediate circumstances but persists despite them.

The foundation for Prager’s latest body of work is the artist’s powerful new film, Run. Featuring musical compositions by Ellen Reid and Philip Glass and starring Katherine Waterston, the film deploys cinematic archetypes and absurdist humor as it examines human resilience in the face of catastrophe. An otherwise ordinary day in an uncannily generic setting erupts into chaos when a massive, mirrored sphere propels itself through a community. Here, forward motion is countered by retrospection. Figures collide into their own reflections in the sphere’s surface, and Prager suggests a curative, collective reckoning with those forces outside of our control.

The New York exhibition presents Run in dialogue with photographs and sculptures that further complicate and enrich the film’s fundamental concerns. Prager’s photographic work Sleep (2022) shows the intricately staged mass of people from Run, as they momentarily lay on the ground, after each colliding with the accelerating mirrored ball. Sleep humorously deconstructs the conventions of the film still, and Prager unveils the absurdist potential of suspending a single moment in time. Dramatizing the scene’s ambiguities, the work offers a narrative with a multitude of possible conclusions. Directly engaging the film’s central image, Prager’s sculpture Ball (2022) shows a hyper-realistic figure of a woman, whose head appears to be crushed by the mirrored sphere. As viewers approach the object, they are likewise confronted by their reflections, and they, too, become enfolded within Prager’s lively narratives. Here, as throughout the exhibition, Prager invites viewers into her visually and symbolically saturated works, suggesting that they, too, have critical parts to play.

Part Two: Run marks the culmination of a multipart exhibition, which also included distinct presentations at Lehmann Maupin Palm Beach in November 2022 and Lehmann Maupin London in January 2022.

Make sure to head to the top floor of the gallery as well, where the exhibition continues with more photographs.

This exhibition closes 3/4/23.

Mar 032023

Renée Stout, “Navigating the Abyss”, 2022

Renée Stout, “A Question for Christoper Wool“, 2022

Renée Stout, “Escape Plan D (with Hi John Root, Connecting the Dots)”, 2022

Renée Stout, “Wall of the Forlorn”, 2022

Renée Stout, exhibition room

Renée Stout, “Armored Heart/Caged Heart”, 2005

Renée Stout’s exhibition at Marc Straus in NYC,  Navigating the Abyss, presents a collection of her recent work in various mediums. From sculpture and painting to photography, her skillful and inventive work draws you in.

From the press release-

Starting out as a photo-realist painter depicting life in everyday urban neighborhoods, Stout soon developed an interest in the mystical and spiritual traditions in African American communities. Fascinated with fortunetelling and the healing power of Hoodoo, Vodou and Santeria still practiced within the African Diaspora in the American Southeast and Caribbean, she delved into ancient spiritual traditions and belief systems. She has drawn inspiration from a wide variety of sources such as current social and political events, Western art history, the culture of African Diaspora, and daily city life. While her artistic practice is rich with references and resonances, her works are eventually unique manifestations of her own imagination, populated by mysterious narratives and imagined characters derived from the artist’s alter ego.

In this exhibition, we encounter a group of portraits depicting Hoodoo Assassins and Agents (#213 and #214) who, in Stout’s imagination, are healers, seers, and empaths from a Parallel Universe in which fairness and balance rules. Erzulie Yeux Rouge (Red Eyes) is a spirit from the Haitian Pantheon of spirits whose empathic nature makes her a fierce guardian or protector of women, children, and betrayed lovers. Ikengas, originating in the Igbo culture of Southeastern Nigeria, are shrine figures that are meant to store the owner’s chi (personal god), his ndichie (ancestors) and his ike (power), and are generally associated with men. Stout’s Ikenga (If You Come for the Queen, You Better Not Miss) is a powerful female figure with her breasts and horns turned into weapons, and she is adorned with jewels and charms to boost her powers. Beyond the playful yet powerful imagination of these female characters are serious undertones of political commentary as Stout ponders the concepts of these deities while witnessing the recent rulings in our society that infringe on women’s rights.

In Escape Plan D (With Hi John Root, Connecting the Dots) Stout maps out her potential escape to the Parallel Universe when the daily news weighs unbearably on her psyche.

Visions of the Fall, in Thumbnails is a series of five small paintings that comments on the current state of our world and its imagined future with the titles as upcoming stages of its evolution.

American Memory Jar is an entirely black sculpture consisting of a glass jar covered with thin-set mortar, plastic and metal toy guns, topped with a doll head and adorned with a bead and rhinestone cross pendant. Memory Jugs are an American folk-art form that memorializes the dead adorned with objects associated with the deceased. Stout’s jar is a bitter but painfully accurate assessment.

While Stout’s work alludes to history, racial stereotyping, societal decay, and a set of alarming tendencies in our socio-political structures and ecosystem, it also reveals possibilities and the promise of healing. Various works reference healing herbs, potions, and dreams. Herb List, Spell Diagram and The Magic I Manifest speak of Stout’s belief in the power of consciousness, in the existence of more solid and fertile grounds, and of individual responsibility.

There is one overarching narrative that clearly emerges from Stout’s work – her personal history and spiritual journey as a woman and as an artist.

This exhibition closes 3/5/23.


Mar 022023

Artist Miguel Luciano– Vinyl banner from the public art project “Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio”, 2019 Image: Young Lords Member with Pallante Newspaper (1970)” by Hiram Maristany and “The People’s Pulpit” (2022), a repurposed vintage pulpit from the First Spanish Methodist Church in East Harlem.

Miguel Luciano- Vinyl banner from the public art project “Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio”, 2019 Image: Young Lords Member with Pallante Newspaper (1970)” by Hiram Maristany


Poor People’s Art: A (Short) Visual History of Poverty in the United States at USF Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa uses installations and artworks to tell the story of, and expand perspectives on, The Poor People’s Campaign- from its origins in the late 1960s to the present day form, as well as comment on poverty and other social issues. Both educational and engaging, it shows that despite long struggles and some progress, we are still very far from much needed social change, especially in regards to poverty.

The museum also produced a free full color, 48 page workbook that you can pick up there or download as a PDF that can be downloaded from their website.

From the gallery’s website-

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is well known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, yet much less emphasis is placed on his campaign to seek justice for America’s poor, “The Poor People’s Campaign.” This was a multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-racial movement aimed at uniting poor people and their allies to demand an end to poverty and inequality. Fifty-three years after Dr. King’s death, the Reverend William Barber II launched a contemporary push to fulfill MLK’s ambitious brief — one that calls for a “revolution of values” that unites poor and impacted communities across the country. The exhibition Poor People’s Art: A (Short) Visual History of Poverty in the United States represents a visual response to Dr. King’s “last great dream” as well as Reverend Barber’s recent “National Call for Moral Revival.”

With artworks spanning more than 50 years, the exhibition is divided into two parts: Resurrection (1968-1994) and Revival (1995-2022). Resurrection includes photographs, paintings, prints, videos, sculptures, books, and ephemera made by a radically inclusive company of American artists, from Jill Freedman’s photographs of Resurrection City, the tent enclave that King’s followers erected on the National Mall in 1968, to John Ahearns’ plaster cast sculpture Luis Fuentes, South Bronx (1979). Revival offers contemporary engagement across a range of approaches, materials, and points of view. Conceived in a declared opposition to poverty, racism, militarism, environmental destruction, health inequities, and other interlocking injustices, this exhibition shows how artists in the US have visualized poverty and its myriad knock-on effects since 1968. Participating artists include John Ahearn, Nina Berman, Martha De la Cruz, Jill Freedman, Rico Gatson, Mark Thomas Gibson, Corita Kent, Jason Lazarus, Miguel Luciano, Hiram Maristany, Narsiso Martinez, Adrian Piper, Robert Rauschenberg, Rodrigo Valenzuela, William Villalongo & Shraddha Ramani, and Marie Watt.

Below are some images from the show and the descriptions from the museum.

About the two works above from the museum’s walls-

A multimedia visual artist whose work explores themes of history, popular culture, and social justice, Miguel Luciano revisits the history of the Young Lords, a revolutionary group of young Puerto Rican activists who organized for social justice in their communities beginning in the late 1960s. Luciano’s first contribution to Poor People’s Art is a vinyl banner from the public art project Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio (2019), a collaboration with artist Hiram Maristany. It features the photograph “Young Lords Member with Pa’lante Newspaper (1970)” by Maristany, who was the official photographer of the Young Lords and a founding member of the New York chapter. This banner, along with nine other enlarged Maristany photographs, were installed throughout East Harlem at the same locations where their history occurred 50 years prior.

Luciano’s second contribution to Poor People’s Art is the sculpture The People’s Pulpit (2022), a repurposed vintage pulpit from the First Spanish Methodist Church in East Harlem. The Young Lords famously took over the church in 1969 and renamed it “The People’s Church”; they hosted free breakfast programs, clothing drives, health screenings, and other community services there. In this exhibition, The People’s Pulpit features an historic recording of Nuyorican poet Pedro Pietri reciting the celebrated poem Puerto Rican Obituary during the Young Lord’s takeover of The People’s Church.

Placards created by USF Contemporary Art Museum students, faculty and staff

Martha De La Cruz, “Techo de Sin (Roof of Without)”, 2021, made from stolen, scavenged and donated materials found in Southwest Florida.

About the above work from the wall plaque-

Afro-Taino artist Martha De la Cruz fashioned her sculptural installation Techo de sin (Roof of Without), 2021, from stolen, scavenged and donated materials found in Southwest Florida. According to the artist, “Florida is home to a large population of Latin American migrants who have ended up in the US largely due to economic pressures, exploitation and veins of power etched by Europe and the US.” Her powerful work deals with the results of this disjunction and the “symptoms thereabouts (e.g. houselessness, fugitiv-ity, government corruption, and income disparity, etc.).” According to De la Cruz, the word “sin” is a common Dominican mispronunciation for the word “zinc.” The sculpture is animated by a single light bulb that turns on for just ten minutes a day.

Narsiso Martinez “Hollywood & Vine”, 2022

Jason Lazarus “Resurrection City /Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival / A Third Reconstruction”, 2023, plywood, utility fabric, blankets, sleeping cot, paint, lamp, plastic, research library, historical ephemera

From the wall plaque about the Lazarus installation-

Jason Lazarus’s sculptural installation Resurrection City/Poor People’s Campaign: A National call for Moral Revival/A Third Reconstruction (2023) is anchored in the artist’s historical research and several key photographs of Resurrection City. A tent-like shelter inspired by the temporary residences that populated the 1968 mass protest, the interactive sculpture contains simple sleeping quarters and a curated library filled with physical literature and ephemera centered on both the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, co-led by Rev. Dr.William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. The library allows for audiences to trace, listen, and talk about the history of advocating for the poor, from 1865 to the present. Additionally, the artist provides a custom transcription (and a QR hyperlink) to Barber’s 49-minute address on the syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club” in which he carefully outlines his powerful vision for how we might address poverty going forward.

Inside the Jason Lazarus installation

A book and magazine from Jason Lazarus’ installation floor

Mark Thomas Gibson, “Town Crier July 23rd”, 2021

Rico Gatson, “Audre #2”, 2021

Jill Freedman, “Poor People’s Campaign, Resurrection City” 1968

About Jill Freedman’s photograph-

In the spring of 1968, the talented young street photographer Jill Freedman quit her day job as a copywriter in New York City to join the Poor People’s March on Washington. Freedman lived in Resurrection City for the entire six weeks of the encampment’s existence, photographing its residents as they rallied, made speeches, protested in front of government buildings, confronted police, built makeshift kitchens, organized clothing swaps, and dealt with flooding, petty crime, and illness. One of the most important postwar documentarians, and one of the few women photographers of the era, Freedman captured it all. Freedman’s 2017 book, Resurrection City, 1968-from which this exhibition draws a dozen powerful images-showcases the photographs that she made as a participant in the original Poor People’s Campaign. In multiple ways, Freedman’s images are the sympathetic perch upon much of which much of the present exhibition loosely hangs.

This exhibition closes 3/4/23.

Mar 022023

Iulia Nistor “Evidence L3 W2 P8”, 2022, oil on wood, 50 x 40 cm

Iulia Nistor “Evidence L5 W8 P1”, 2022, oil on wood, 50 x 40 cm

Iulia Nistor “Evidence L/E0 F4 A5”, 2022, oil on wood, 50 x 40 cm

Iulia Nistor “Evidence L6 F2 A9”, 2023, oil on wood, 50 x 40 cm

Currently at Mendes Wood Gallery in NYC are Iulia Nistor’s paintings for her solo exhibition properties without object. The new works are part of her Evidence Paintings series. Each painting is the same size and titled with coordinates “suggesting not only the representational function, but also documentary specificity, of paintings which rarely picture anything we can automatically name”.

More from the gallery’s press release-

Paint is used with a diverse range of techniques, applied with a fine brush in painstaking detail or with broad gestures. Hard-edged forms cede to organic scumbling. Deep illusionistic spaces, evoked by geometric lines of perspective, contrast with marks which emphasize painting’s limitations to its surface. Trompe l’oeil plays sly games with our habitual perceptions. Dried paint is removed with a sanding device, subverting Nistor’s intentions, producing unforeseen configurations and textures, and reducing multiple layers of paint to ground.

Irreducible to any singular style, these expressive resources are positioned to represent the properties of certain things, perhaps an observed aspect of an object, a place, a person, or the space between them. Nistor’s purpose is not primarily to represent the things themselves but the qualities which they possess. This aim makes her paintings register less as representations than inquiries into the nature of representation itself, questioning the opaque relation between how something appears, how it is perceived, and how that duality can be pictorially rendered. How much of what we experience is a given of the environment, and how is it changed by the subjectivity which accompanies it? Does a painting, unlike a photograph, need to depart from the ostensible form of its subject to, paradoxically, achieve a true likeness of it?

Nistor often proceeds through gestures of subtraction, isolating a property of an object by eliminating aspects of it. The specificities of her practice correspond to the specificity of the phenomena they are used to capture.

Alongside her paintings, for the first time, Nistor exhibits a pair of photographs, each showing one side of an A4 sheet of paper, upon which a sequence of propositions is printed. These are attempts to define the relationship between objects and the properties which seem to adhere to them. The spare sentences, phrased in objective, philosophical language, have been edited by queries and remarks, written in pencil and ballpoint pen, in the artist’s hand. This process of revision and redefinition, preempting the demand for a categorical answer, reflects the artist’s process in painting.

In both photographs, the sheets appear on a black studio surface. One rests parallel to its frame, resembling an aperture, while the other lies tilted, negating this illusion. The abstractions of language qualify—or are qualified by—the materiality of the wooden surface, much like those upon which Nistor paints, stained with traces of the artist’s process. A window into Nistor’s conceptual method doubles as a formal metaphor for the axis, central to her practice, between the given and the made.

Iulia Nistor, “Untitled (properties without object)”, 2023, photo on cotton paper (image via Mendes Wood )

This exhibition closes 3/5/23.

Feb 242023

Micaela Amateau Amato, “Yoran Por Aire (contes brevas)”

Photographs by Amadia Shadow Rabbit

Film still from Kiara Mohammed Amin’s “Black Presence”

Film still from Kiara Mohammed Amin’s “Black Presence”

Soonoqo: We Become Body in Waves of Light and Sound at Dunedin Fine Art Center is a multimedia exhibition of 18 artists from around the world who “share a common desire for healing, communal growth and interdependence with nature” curated by S. Toxosi.

S. Toxosi’s statement about the exhibition (from the gallery wall)-

I do not possess the language to truly describe the be-holdings within Soonoqo. As a term within the Somali language, it would be difficult to translate into contemporary English. It considers a pluralistic worldview that allows ‘becoming and returning’ to bear witness of itself, within oneself while conjoining through space and time. Soonoqo, basks in the universal soul. Its otherness is imbued as the ‘physical cosmos’ and all its avatars and manifestations.

To speak in metaphor or in a sense of ‘poetic meditation’, one would engulf whirling vortexes, volcanoes and maelstroms that end up in other universes from which bring new revelations or images, The senses are engaged as viewed in Bruno Ferreira Abdala’s video art When Mother Breathes. It is here we can see a pluralist’s sensibility where the cohorts of Soonoqo ‘become and return’ with offerings that contend with the mythical genesis through the acknowledgement and practices of ancestral wisdom, queering mores, spirituality and love. Thus creating fission through initiating and remembering. There is a subtlety of conjuration, ritual, humility, vulnerability in K. Tauches’s Q.A.L. video-making that unfolds and reveals the sentience of a Nature that provides true sustainability.

Soonoqo is a web of interconnected lights in continuous synchrony. It enables manifestations from varied domains of areas of perceptibility through human inner weavings of life experiences and becomes a variety of communicative prowess that encompasses video arts, film, photography, the written word and sonic compositions. These forms all ultimately resonate with and point toward healing where one/all is purified, catalyzed and cleansed through cooperation with nature, technology, shadow matter, dark matter and invisible matter. As can be seen in the film Womb not Tomb by Dea, where she investigates and yields to the teaching of the four elements or in Kiara Mohammed Amin’s Black Presence, a short film of talismanic energy and transformation.

Artists included in the exhibition- Brandy Eve Allen, Viveka Krumm, Harry Wilson Kapatika, Cara Judea Alhadeff, Sadie Sheldon, Chelsea Rowe, Micaela Amateau Amato, Saudade Toxosi, Jennifer Pyron, Amadia Shadow Rabbit, K.Tauches, Javier T. Dones, Bruno Ferreira Abdala, Sall Lam Toro, Kiara Mohamed Amin, Nayetesi, Dea

For more information on this exhibition check out @soono.qo and this conversation with S. Toxosi and DFAC Curators Catherine Bergmann and Nathan Beard which is very informative.

Feb 242023

Lars Fisk, “Court Tennis (v.1)”, 2023 with “das Ding (v.3)”, 2023

Lars Fisk, “Court Tennis (v.1)”, 2023 (right side)

Lars Fisk, “Court Tennis (v.1)”, 2023 (left side, closer) with “das Ding (v.3)”, 2023

Lars Fisk, “das Ding (v.1)”, 2023

Lars Fisk, “das Ding (v.1)”, 2023 (back view)

Lars Fisk, “das Ding (v.2)”, 2023

For 10SNE1, Lars Fisk’s exhibition at Broadway Gallery in NYC, he has created an immersive environment that is really fun to walk around in or even try playing in.

From the gallery’s press release-

Whatever isolation people experienced during the 2020 pandemic lockdown was, to residents of the remote enclave of Red Hook Brooklyn, both compounded and barely noticed at all.  Lars Fisk, who lives and works there in a stacked shipping container house and an adjacent studio, mostly carried on with his solitary practice fashioning astonishingly complex sculptures from glass, steel, brick and wood.  Apart from the occasional neighborly drop-in, he saw very few people.

As a result, when New York emerged from the fearful slumber of Covid, Fisk himself blossomed in late spring with a hunger for human connection. As luck would have it, he was invited by a Red Hook neighbor to join their softball league. Fisk had never really played before, but took a chance and shook off the isolation to give it a shot. He has described the profound uplift of multi-generational camaraderie and shared purpose; of competition and physical exertion in almost euphoric terms.

As summer wound down, Fisk was determined to find a way to perpetuate this endorphin rush. Simultaneously, he had also been playing tennis with some regularity, and, as is his inclination, had been researching the history of the game. He was delighted to discover that the game (known first as Court Tennis) originated in the Middle Ages with opponents paddling a cord-wound leather ball back and forth off of the sloping roofs of the stalls at the close of the public market—a version of what many a contemporary suburban kid would recall as a game of “Roofball”.

This gave Fisk the idea of creating a winter-ready racquet sport inside his studio. This portion of his workspace had been set aside for formal display of works that were complete but hadn’t yet been shipped out for exhibition—a place to present works to his now close-knit Red Hook community in an in-crowd acknowledgement of the locals’ contribution to his work and happiness. Therefore, this site (a White Cube with an absurdist twist of the traditional wattle and daub and timbering of Tudor architecture) became the obvious location for the court. Here, any neighbor or visiting friend that came to play and help develop the rules of this makeshift new sport became de facto performers—became the artwork that this space was designated to display. A low net was set up and a loose set of rules were developed to keep the play lively and competitive. Fisk experimented with different wall treatments (clapboard, asphalt shingles, etc.) that complicated the angle of rebound of volleyed shots and produced a controlled chaos that slowly refined itself as his visiting collaborators learned the peculiarities of the court.

Fisk was pleased that his passions for architecture, sculpture, competition and bonhomie had successfully converged in this new sport/performance/artwork and he began to develop the idea and how it might be realized within a more formal exhibition space.  In preparation for the show, he expanded upon the theatrical possibilities (both in presentation and potential for audience) that the commercial gallery setting in Tribeca would provide. The result is a kind of non-site environment that evokes an outer borough environment of vinyl sided clapboards and shingled rooftops that form the irregular angles and planes that recalls the architecture of Court Tennis. A basement bulkhead door emerges from the floor at a 45-degree angle perfect for bewildering bank-shots; a pre-fab bay window presents a multi-faceted surface refracting the ball in unexpected ways; an open garage shelters a sculpture based on a boxy 1970s Volkswagen “Thing” whose windshield is also fair play. Two more of these themed vehicle sculptures (one evoking a military ambulance and the other a preposterously tricked out off-road vehicle with aftermarket flood lights and winch) are arrayed in the court’s adjacent “gallery” acting alternately as obstacles, artworks and seating for viewers of the match. The sculptures’ angular geometry acts as a catalyst for the court’s faceted architecture, unifying the exhibition as a whole.

Formal concerns aside, the development of the game has naturally teased out conversations about court etiquette, dress and decorum as signifiers of class, and the twinned elitisms of the tennis club and art world. Within the exhibition these are reflected in the players’ tennis whites and the ritualistic manners of play. Perhaps as an antidote to this reality, the hope is that Fisk can expand his community by inviting exhibition visitors to engage with both the built environment and discrete artworks and to become a part of the artwork itself.  In the process, he may simultaneously democratize the lofty status of tennis and the gallery space itself.

This exhibition closes Saturday 2/25/23.


Feb 232023

Cynthia Talmadge, “Goodbye to All This: Alan Smithee Off Broadway”, 2023 installation view

Cynthia Talmadge, “ACT 2: The Cabana”, 2022

Cynthia Talmadge, “Maserati (Dream Sequence)”, 2022

Cynthia Talmadge, “Maserati (The Strasberg Institute)”, 2022

Cynthia Talmadge, “Walk of Fame” 2023

Currently in Bortolami’s upstairs gallery is Cynthia Talmadge’s imaginative exhibition, Goodbye to All This: Alan Smithee Off Broadway.

From Bortolami’s press release-

“We find the narcissist in a reflective mood.” — stage directions penciled into a draft of act III, scene 1 of Alan Smithee’s Goodbye to All This

“Alan Smithee” is a pseudonym used by Hollywood directors to remove their names from movies over which they have lost creative control. In this exhibition Cynthia Talmadge animates Smithee, imagining him in the mid-1980s as a down-on-his-luck, middle-aged baby boomer, trying, elaborately but ineptly, to revive a career defined by burned bridges, bad behavior, and commercial failure. The show takes as its premise a fictitious play, an autobiographical avant-garde off-broadway Bildungsroman written and directed by Smithee in an effort to engineer his come back. The play–entitled Goodbye to All This is what Talmadge imagines as Smithee’s clumsy inversion of the title of Joan Didion’s essay about leaving New York for California – tells Smithee’s version of his rise and fall in Hollywood and his subsequent departure for New York, culminating in his redemption as a New York theater artist.

The only substance to the real-world “Smithee” is an extensive filmography of more than 80 credits. Talmadge takes this output at face value, envisioning for us the detailed biography and personality of a director whose career persists despite every job he’s done having gone badly awry amidst professional conflict. For Talmadge, this makes him a dubious American icon: an epitome of privilege and unwarranted confidence; a guy who – at least until recently – could only ever fail up.

Several Los Angeles and New York landmarks and former landmarks are included in the paintings along with Smithee’s Maserati- the Director’s Guild building, Chasen’s, the Friars Club, Scientology Celebrity Center, and the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles and Elaine’s and The Lee Strasbourg Institute in New York. The Maserati’s final destination is 39 Walker in NYC, the address of the gallery.

The Playbill paintings have an incredible amount of detail within them and highlight the three acts of Smithee’s journey. The room includes a fallen column, a box of headshots, and Smithee’s set design model for Goodbye to All This, his autobiographical play.

Both Bortolami and Talmadge’s Instagram pages expand on the Smithee story in a few of their posts and are worth taking a look at as well.

This exhibition closes 2/25/23.