Oct 082019
 

The Museum of Broken Windows is a free pop-up experience in New York City, a project by the NYCLU currently located Cooper Union.

From the Museum of Broken Windows/ NYCLU websites-

The broken windows theory is an academic theory proposed by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling in 1982. The academic theory, which first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, states that signs of disorder in a neighborhood, like a broken window, encourages petty crimes and leads to more serious crimes. This postulation was adopted by the New York City Police Department and has led to the criminalization of poverty and the over-policing of Black and Brown communities at disproportionate rates. The theory has never been proven to be effective at reducing crime.

The Museum showcases the ineffectiveness of broken windows policing, which criminalizes our most vulnerable communities. The strategy of broken windows policing is outdated and has never been proven to be effective at reducing crime. For decades, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by broken windows policing.

It is time for a change. New Yorkers are coming together for important conversations on policing and what it means to feel and be safe. Using art and creativity, the Museum of Broken Windows will provide a powerful and emotional experience that critically looks at the system of policing in New York.


Pictured above are “…and counting” by Ann Lewis (each tag is filled out with the name of a person killed by police) and one of the group of portraits by Tracy Hetzel of women who have lost loved ones because of broken window policing. The one pictured is of Gwen Carr who is holding a picture of her son Eric Garner.

This show ends on 10/8/19.

Oct 032019
 

“Lake Annecy”, 2019 and “Sailboat”, 2019

Lake Annecy, 2019 detail

Currently at Miles McEnery’s gallery locations in Chelsea are two engaging painting exhibitions.

Guy Yanai’s paintings, at the 21st Street location, are created with strips of oil paint and are fascinating to walk up close to, observing the details, and then to pull back from to see as a whole. He also chose a bright yellow for the walls of the gallery to be painted, which brings out the colors of the paintings even further.

From the press release

Guy Yanai strips his subjects down to geometric necessity and builds them back up again in oil paint, establishing a tension on his canvases between the spatially flat and the physically multidimensional. A combination of diagrammatic delineation of form and vivid color, Yanai’s paintings are an optical delight.

Yanai accomplishes this willful distillation of his subjects by painting obsessively in tight chromatic strips. While from afar the individual brushstrokes fade into the larger landscape, up close one can notice the stops and starts of each metered stroke. This synthesis speaks to Yanai’s desire for his works “to have such tension that if you take out one brushstroke, the painting will collapse.” The smoothness and uniformity of his taut oil bands offer a linear precision that can only be accomplished by the most disciplined draftsman.

While Yanai harkens back to modernist masters such as Matisse and Cézanne, his compositions are pixelated in a manner that is fundamentally contemporary. The collection of short and disconnected brushstrokes merge in the viewer’s eye to create a fully realized image. Yanai’s paintings experiment with the digital in contemporary art. “As beholden to the virtual imagery of the internet as to the history of modernism,” Ara H. Merjian writes in his essay, Élan Vital, “Yanai’s work proves beguilingly complex despite – or rather, precisely in – its congenial simplicity.”

Often revisiting the same subject, he paints from memory – of a place, of a moment, of a feeling. Just as recollections brighten and fade in the mind over time, Yanai recalls his own inspirations and recreates them in different ways as they evolve. What results is a proliferation of works that demonstrate Yanai’s rich meditation on his experiences. Whether an open window or an ocean view, Yanai’s nostalgic passion has a lasting impact on its viewer.

At their 22nd Street location are Brian Alfred’s colorful graphic paintings of places in New York City.

“W. 4th St.”, 2018-2019

“Central Park at Dusk”, 2019

From the press release-

Alfred navigates these complex themes using an approach characterized by sharp lines and blocked colors. Tightly-cropped compositions manipulate the viewer’s perception of space, conflating overlapping buildings, signage, and other urban elements. These vibrant, city-shaped configurations capture ephemeral moments: the view through the gap between two skyscrapers, the contour of a passing storefront from a car window, and a downward glance into a subway entrance. While they might not last long, these unique fields of vision are fundamental parts of the experience of the city.

Both of these exhibitions close 10/5/19.

Oct 032019
 

Jim Krewson’s “tribute to a vanishing subculture”, A Requiem for Paul Lynde, currently in the Viewing Room in the back of Marlborough Gallery’s downtown location, “questions the loss and amnesia of marginal identity in a new age of equality, instant access, Instagram influencers and celebrity, from homosexuality to homogenization in 20 short years.”

The airbrushed wedding dress spins with images that include Lynde himself, as well as Lady Elaine Fairchild from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the Madame puppet, a Wayland Flowers creation. Flowers’ puppet had her own sitcom in 1982 and also took over Paul Lynde’s center square on Hollywood Squares. Sadly Flowers, an openly gay entertainer, passed away in 1988 at the age of 48 from AIDS related Kaposi’s sarcoma.

If you love of a certain time period of pop culture and Paul Lynde than it will be hard not to embrace this project. But it’s also interesting as a meditation on the state of gay pop culture in the past, the place it is in today, and the question of where it may go in the future now that it is has such a strong, but less subversive place, within mainstream media.

In the main viewing space of Marlborough Gallery is Joe Zucker’s multi-panel 100-Foot-Long-Piece created from 1968 to 1969.

From the press release

This masterwork, exhibited here with a large body of related archival material, comprises a blueprint for Zucker’s long and diverse practice. It plants a flag for the artist’s ongoing inventiveness, irony, and eclecticism.

With the creation of this work, Zucker presents the viewer with a puzzle-like, encyclopedic visual vocabulary, anticipating subsequent pictorial and conceptual approaches such as New Image, Neo-Expressionism, Appropriation, Neo Geo, as well as more recent process- based abstraction, with a self-referential, wry regard for the embedded, associative meaning of his imagery and materials.

100-Foot-Long Piece is a linear aggregate in which gestural abstraction rubs elbows with hard edged grids, silk-screened passages, sculptural reliefs, and a host of other styles and forms. One is mindful of both physical and critical tropes of progressive art history from the physicality of the frieze to a qualitative timeline tracing the contributions of Modernism.

Both shows close 10/5/19.

Sep 202019
 

Jeffrey Gibson, “PEOPLE LIKE US”, 2019

Jeffrey Gibson

2019’s Whitney Biennial presents an interesting selection of work, by a mostly young and diverse group of artists. The works included in the show are consistently good, and often intriguing, but this time around nothing is particularly outrageous or polarizing- a contrast to many of the previous iterations.

Not that there wasn’t any drama surrounding the show. This time around, however, the controversy was not with an artwork but with former Whitney executive board member Warren B. Kanders and his ownership of Safariland, a tear-gas canister maker. He has since resigned after protests and threats of withdrawal from several of the artists included in the show. Artist collective Forensic Architecture’s film, Triple Chaser, on view in the exhibition, investigates Safariland and Kanders.

Below are a few highlights from the exhibition.

Janiva Ellis ” Uh Oh, Look Who Got Wet”, 2019

Daniel Lind-Ramos, “Centinelas (Sentinels)”, 2013

Section of Nicole Eisenman’s, “Procession”, 2019

This exhibition closes 9/22/19.

 

Aug 222019
 

A Universe of One, 2018

A Universe of One, 2018 (detail)

The Dream of Flight, 2019

The Dream of Flight, 2019 (detail)

Currently at Kohn Gallery is New York-based artist María Berrío’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.

From the press release-

Inspired by her youth in the countryside of Bogotá, Colombia, Berrío’s paintings explore the experience of immigrant identity, intercultural connectivity and the beauty that is found in the diversity of cultures and countries. Berrío depicts her figures with richly detailed and patterned backgrounds of exteriors and interiors. The large, detailed mixed media canvases employ lush, carefully crafted, multilayered Japanese papers and paint, resulting in scenes replete with pensive yet confident figures amid a scene of visual exuberance.

Berrío’s work often places female figures at the center of her intricately woven landscapes. Painted with watercolor details, her figures stare out of the composition determined to confront the viewer from their own surreal surroundings. Her work is evocative of predecessors such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, both known for their exceptional degree of emotional directness and figural distortion in the place of conventional beauty. Berrío’s works float seamlessly between historical and contemporary artistic styles as they employ a wide visual vernacular ranging from expressionism to graphic, abstract marks.

The variety of media and techniques found in María Berrío’s practice emphasizes the interwoven cultural breadth of the world in which we live, where globalization and injustice touch the lives of everyone. Each character Berrío paints is a symbol of this new reality and the strength that can issue from it. For the artist, a female soldier on the front lines is as brave and mighty as the mother who protects her children from the perils of war. These depictions of women are seen as guiding spirits who are strong, vulnerable, compassionate, courageous and in harmony with Nature and themselves. With these combinations of human traits and emotions, Berrío fortifies her belief that with womanhood every action is considered beautiful and strong, no matter how small or large.

For her current show, A Cloud’s Roots, Berrío focuses especially on place and migration. The individuals are seen in preparation for their travels, in moments of transition, and in various states of uncertainty. Berrío states, “the ambiguity is intentional; although I may have a specific idea in mind when making the work, the actual piece lacks cultural specificity to allow for all symbolic possibilities.” Berrío therefore gravitates towards symbols with global cultural significance, such as braids, birds, and flowers, with the hope that they allow diverse audiences to bring their own understanding to the work.

In her recent work, A Cloud’s Roots (2018), Berrío creates a fictional species of tree based on the dragon’s blood tree, found exclusively on an island off the coast of Yemen. The dragon’s blood tree has adapted perfectly to the island’s desert-like climate and rocky soil, inhospitable to most other plant life. It is a powerful symbol of survival and resilience, able to thrive even in the most unlikely conditions. The figures in the piece are compelled to leave their home but they carry with them the knowledge that they too have the power to put down roots wherever they go.

By reflecting on the beauty of our immigrant nation, Berrío’s new body of work aims to rewrite the narrative of American history to include the stories of people who have long been excluded. It makes space for those who were not born in this country, but come here full of hope and desire to make it their home. As the art canon expands its scope and redefines its boundaries, Berrío imagines a future in which people with diverse perspectives can walk into an institution and see themselves reflected back. Berrío states, “so many immigrants, myself included, are stuck in the inbetween, not quite from here, and no longer from there. I create work that bears witness to this liminal state of being and acknowledges it as an essential part of being American. I wish to convey that which can never be conveyed: the sheer joy of being, of creation, and the undiscoverable mystery of being alive.”

This exhibition closes 8/24/19.

Also, if you are in New York City, she recently created several glass and ceramic mosaics that can be seen in the Fort Hamilton Pkwy Station.

 

Jun 292019
 

“Graduation”, (1949) © Estate of Roy DeCarava

We look at so many images today that often the value of individual photos decreases with the abundance of them. That’s why it is such a pleasure to spend time with Roy DeCarava’s black and white photographs at The Underground Museum. His images have a meditative beauty to them. They catch your eye and hold it. There is a richness to his compositions, his use of textures and light.

While at The Underground Museum, also take a moment to look through a copy of De Carava’s book collaboration with writer Langston Hughes, The Sweet Flypaper of Life in the book store.  The images in it influenced artist Kahlil Joseph’s film Flypaper (2017), which was recently shown at MOCA.  Kahlil Joseph’s brother, artist Noah Davis, who sadly passed away in 2015, founded The Underground Museum with his wife, artist Karon Davis, in 2012.

Roy DeCarava: The Work of Art closes 6/29/19.

 

“Bill and son”(1962) © Estate of Roy DeCarava

 

May 132019
 

ONE Gallery in West Hollywood is currently showing The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s photographs by Greg Day. The artist died in his late 30s and would have remained virtually unknown if not for curator David Getsy researching, collecting, and documenting everything he could find on Varble.

His performance pieces were often both audacious and humorous and the exhibition details several of them. Varble popped open blood filled condom breasts in protest at a bank (proceeding to use the blood to sign a check for “zero million dollars”), crashed the Met Gala and the premiere of Tommy, and gave “costume tours” of big name art galleries in Soho, challenging the status quo. In our current world of corporate bailouts, rampant capitalism, and celebration of the rich, its fun to imagine what kind of work Varble might have created today in response.

From the press release-

In costumes made from street trash, food waste, and stolen objects, Stephen Varble (1946–1984) took to the streets of 1970s New York City to perform his “Gutter Art.” With disruption as his aim, he led uninvited costumed tours through the galleries of SoHo, occupied Fifth Avenue gutters, and burst into banks and boutiques in his gender-confounding ensembles. Varble made the recombination of signs for gender a central theme in his increasingly outrageous costumes and performances. While maintaining he/him as his pronouns, Varble performed gender as an open question in both his life and his work, sometimes identifying as a female persona, Marie Debris, and sometimes playing up his appearance as a gay man. Only later would the term “genderqueer” emerge to describe the kind of self-made, non-binary gender options that Varble adopted throughout his life and in his disruptions of the 1970s art world.

At the pinnacle moment of Varble’s public performances, the photographer Greg Day (b. 1944) captured the inventiveness and energy of his genderqueer costume confrontations. Trained as an artist and anthropologist and with a keen eye for documenting ephemeral culture as it flourished, Day took hundreds of photographs of Varble’s trash couture, public performances, and events in 1975 and 1976. Varble understood the importance of photographers, and Day was his most important photographic collaborator. This exhibition brings together a selection of Day’s photographs of Varble performing his costume works and also includes Day’s photographs of Varble’s friends and collaborators such as Peter Hujar, Jimmy DeSana, Shibata Atsuko, Agosto Machado, and Warhol stars Jackie Curtis, Taylor Mead, and Mario Montez.

Varble sought to make a place for himself outside of art’s institutions and mainstream cultures all the while critiquing them both. The story of Varble told through Day’s photographs is both about their synergistic artistic friendship and about the queer networks and communities that made such an anti-institutional and genderqueer practice imaginable. Together, Varble and Day worked to preserve the radical potential of Gutter Art for the future.

The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble builds upon the 2018 retrospective exhibition of Stephen Varble’s work at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, titled Rubbish and Dreams: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble, as featured in the New York Times on January 11, 2019.  The new ONE Gallery exhibition, with its focus on the collaboration of Varble with the photographer Greg Day, will explore the ways in which Varble’s disruptive guerilla performance art has lived on primarily through vibrant photographs that captured his inventive costumes, transformed trash, and public confrontations.

This exhibition closes 5/17/19.

*For an additional perspective on the artist- Stephen Varble was friends with a 14-year old girl in NYC named Fernanda Eberstadt who kept diaries detailing her time with him. She wrote an interesting piece for Granta about him, reproduced here.

Mar 292019
 

The Whitney Museum’s exhibition, Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again is a great representation of the artist’s body of work. Despite the fact that so much of it has been seen before, the curation makes so much of it feel fresh.

Andy Warhol’s artistic legacy is vast. He created a prolific amount of work throughout his career and the exhibition covers a lot of it. From his early commercial illustrations to his more abstract pieces, his collaborations with Basquiat, his silk screen portraits, his videos, films, and books, there is a lot to see. Below are a few highlights.

Warhol’s fascination with death is seen in numerous works in the exhibition. In 129 Die In Jet, 1962 (pictured above), he recreated the newspaper cover by hand and even used a sponge-blotting technique to reproduce the look of the halftone image. It’s interesting to see how this work foreshadowed his move to the screen printing process. This technique combined with his interest in the subject of death can be seen in his car crash paintings made the following year.

There’s a room dedicated to reproducing Warhol’s Cow Wallpaper, which he used to fill a room in the Castelli Gallery as part of a 1966 installation where he “retired from painting”. He used it again in 1971 for a retrospective at the Whitney, where he directed that all the works be hung on it for the exhibition. It’s a creative way to tie in that history and to present the various colored flower paintings.

Some of Warhol’s portrait series, Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975, which focused on members of New York’s queer community, is included in the show. It’s a nice contrast to his portraits that more commonly feature socialites and Hollywood celebrities.

His giant portrait of Mao is impressive, and takes up a wall in one of the galleries. It’s a reproduction of a painting by Zhang Zhenshi, which was at the time thought to be the most widely reproduced artwork in the world. Warhol created the work in response to reading about then President Nixon’s trip to meet with the Chinese leader, while China was still considered an enemy of the United States.

On a separate floor are several monitors playing Warhol’s video work and work related to the artist. Included is one of him eating a Burger King burger, shot by Danish documentarian Jørgen Leth, that the fast food chain used as part of their ad in this year’s Superbowl.

Warhol was a constantly evolving artist who worked in many mediums, in effective ways. The exhibition is a testament to Warhol’s unique perspective and how his work continues to resonate in a time period where so much of what he was commenting on has even more relevance.

Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again, closes 3/31/19 and is free Friday from 7-10pm.

Mar 012019
 

Matvey Levenstein, LY, 2018

Currently at Kasmin Gallery are Matvey Levenstein’s paintings depicting scenes from his life in North Fork, Long Island. There’s a quiet, peaceful quality to the works, which begin with snapshots before they are turned into paintings. This exhibition closes Saturday 3/2/19.

Across the street at another of Kasmin Gallery’s Chelsea locations, and worth a visit, is an exhibition of some of Andy Warhol’s polaroid portraits.

Matvey Levenstein, Pink Moon, 2018

Susan Inglett Gallery is showing Slim… you don’t got the juice, an exhibition of work by Wilmer Wilson IV. His work with staples may seem familiar from its inclusion in the New Museum’s 2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage.

From the press release-

Slim… you don’t got the juice presents multidisciplinary departures from familiar modes of figurative representation, as they have evolved in the realm of photographic discourse. Wilmer Wilson IV has developed strategies of redaction and annotation in his work that begin to destabilize the norms of making and viewing portraiture through visual, material, and technical manipulation. An exploration into the complex renderings of individual subject-hood versus object-hood in portraiture, the artist has conceived of a stapled-surface-as-viewing-device that mediates image with material. The device is manifest in a series of staple works that almost fully shroud the photographic subjects beneath dense fields of metal fasteners. The austere, randomized application of the staples onto the surface of each portrait results in a resistance of visual penetration from many angles, complicating access to the underlying figures and deconstructing the voyeuristic inclinations of the viewer.

This exhibition closes 3/16/19.

Wilmer Wilson IV, Host, 2018

 

At Lehmann Maupin’s 24th Street location is McArthur Binion, Hand:Work, an exhibition of the artist’s grid paintings created with oil paint stick and paper on board. The patterns created in the work are overwhelming at first glance but then when seen up close, the personal details add a new dimension to the paintings.

From the press release

…For Binion, his personal documents represent the sum total of one’s social life: relationships, citizenship, vocation, and family life. The revealing and obscuring of these aspects of his life also addresses the larger sociopolitical reality of African-American identity—often obscured or erased from common knowledge, yet always present in tandem with major movements in American culture. In his newest Hand:Work paintings, Binion takes an introspective approach that is more closely aligned with the artist’s own self-perception—effectively, his first self-portraits. Using copies of a photo of the home where he was born, along with a photograph of his hand as the ground layer of the paintings, Binion pares down his identity to its most essential elements. These images are tiled in repeated succession, layered under his repetitious line work in oil stick. These gestures themselves relate to memories Binion has of his early childhood farm life, a disciplined approach to the cyclical, sustained effort he maintains in his work today. Through the insertion of his hand, literally in the photographs, and figuratively in his intricate, overlapping mark-making, the artist relates to his earliest introduction to artistry in his mother’s quilting, a tradition he modified and carried into his practice.

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

McArthur Binion at Lehmann Maupin

McArthur Binion at Lehmann Maupin, detail of above painting

Robert Mann Gallery is showing the newly discovered work of photographer Ed Sievers. The exhibition of black and white photos also includes his later work from the 1970s in Venice Beach. The gallery also has an exhibition of Michael Kenna’s series of black and white female nudes made in Japan (not shown). Both shows close 3/2/19.

Ed Sievers, Untitled (woman in the shadows), c. 1960s, courtesy of the artist, image via Robert Mann Gallery

Damn! The Defiant, a group show curated by Damon Brandt and Andrew Freiser at Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, brings together “images of rebellion and dissent in contemporary portraiture” and includes a wide variety of work in different mediums from an incredible selection of artists that includes Mary Ellen Mark, Gordon Parks, Dana Schutz, Bruce Davidson, Whitfield Lovell and many more. It’s a show that’s very appropriate for a time period that is going to require more and more defiance.

From the press release-

Nothing creates projected personal territory more than the emotional push back generated from the recalcitrant expression of a defiant subject. Yet ironically, it is the very nature of this engagement that makes it difficult for the viewer to quickly detach or withdraw from what in fact amounts to an extended glare or moment of social tension. In a time of undeniable anxiety, finding both the common and contrasting ground in the portrayal of defiance speaks directly to the angst and pre-occupation for self-determination that has been and continues to be a pervasive human concern.

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

 

Installation view of Damn! The Defiant, image via Fredericks & Freiser

 

Feb 162019
 

Currently at Mitchell-Innes & Nash is Masses & Mainstream, an exhibition of Karl Haendel’s incredibly detailed drawings and his musings on life in current day America. The drawings can be humorous at times, including a comparison of himself to Jared Kushner through a checklist, and a record of his types of sneezes. They are balanced by others, where he expresses his anxiety when it comes to selling art, or a smaller piece that lists “wishful thinking” items that includes healthcare, education, housing, and equity for all.

From the press release-

While Karl Haendel’s newest work covers a wide range of subject matter from a stack of lawnmowers to a portrait of Barbara Walters, the common thread that links these disparate images is a dialogue between memory, both personal and collective, and national identity. Many of the works on view are drawn from overlooked sources in contemporary American life—cultural leftovers the artist combs through and resuscitates in order to represent an alternate picture of American reality. Other works, like the aforementioned stack of lawnmowers, come from the artist’s personal history and experiences—a once-submerged detail from his childhood home that has floated to the surface of recollection—that could also be read, more symbolically, as the paraphernalia of American comfort, excess and, perhaps even, of the endangered middle class.

This exhibition closes 2/16/19.